Positive Train Control (PTC) Outage Causes Metra Train Delays


Metra trains in Chicagoland were slowed or stopped Monday morning, February 26, 2024, as a precaution due to an outage involving the Positive Train Control (PTC) system which is designed to prevent a train crash in the event of human error or other situation when a train could travel too fast for conditions. PTC is a nationwide safety control required by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that applies to all passenger and freight trains in the United States.

Regulations may require that trains travel at slower speeds in certain situations when PTC is not functioning (See Code of Federal Regulations/49 CFR Part 236 Subpart I — Positive Train Control Systems).

On the Union Pacific Northwest line, there was an alert Sunday from Metra that there was a delay involving Train #7088 departing inbound to Chicago from Arlington Heights. The delay was described as a problem in the dispatching department.

Then today, Monday, February 26, 2024, there was an alert about 11:53 a.m. that Train #625, scheduled to depart Chicago at 11:35 a.m., had not departed due to “positive train control system outage.” The estimated time of the delay was unknown.

Train lines affected were the …

South Chicago Metra Electric

Blue Island Metra Electric

Rock Island

Southwest Service

Milwaukee District North

Milwaukee District West

Union Pacific North

Union Pacific Northwest

The primary functions of PTC are …

Train separation or collision avoidance

Line speed enforcement

Temporary speed restriction enforcement

Rail worker wayside safety

Blind spot monitoring.


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