Capital Metro to upgrade MetroRail with $9.8M in federal grant funds

The Austin-area transit agency Capital Metro was awarded $9.76 million in federal grant funds on May 31 that will be used for improvements along the 32-mile MetroRail corridor.

According to an agency press release, the funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration and will be used to help install the fiber communications network for an Enhanced Automatic Train Control Positive Train Control system.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, Positive Train Control uses communication-based and processor-based technology to direct train cars on where and where not to move.

“They are designed to prevent derailments or train-to-train collisions and to ensure trains are not guided onto the wrong track due to a switch being left in the wrong position,” read the agency release.

The federal government has given a deadline of Dec. 31, 2018 for rail operators to implement these systems, and the funding was authorized in the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. So far, federal agencies have received 27 applications requesting $455 million, and so far, 17 projects in 13 states have received funding, according to the release.

“We’re grateful to the U.S. DOT, the FRA and the FTA for this grant funding,” Capital Metro President and CEO Linda Watson said in the release. “It will assist us in meeting the federal deadline to install PTC systems and continue to provide safe rail service for Central Texas. We especially want to thank Sen. John Cornyn and Congressmen Michael McCaul and Roger Williams for the tremendous support they have given to the agency during this process.”

Capital Metro plans to begin the procurement process for the train control system in June, and the project is estimated to be completed by the end of 2018.




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