Positive Train Control

What is PTC?

PTC is a type of train control required by law under the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) on most passenger and certain freight routes (with few exceptions).

The intention of PTC is to be interoperable between railroads in an effort to prevent:

  • Train to train collisions;
  • Derailments due to excess speed;
  • Encroachment into established work zones; and/or
  • Train movements when switches are incorrectly positioned,

and to be interoperable between railroads so that one railroad’s train can operate on another railroad’s PTC-equipped track.

PTC provides an additional layer, above the industry’s well-defined safety operations and procedures, comprised of automated systems designed to engage warnings and braking in the event of human error.

How it works…

A combination of sophisticated on-board (locomotive), on-ground infrastructure, communication and back office technology, PTC coordinates all the components to intervene, if necessary, to automatically stop a train before accidents, in situations outlined above, can occur. It should be noted that PTC cannot prevent accidents due to trespassers on foot or in vehicles on the tracks.



KCSR is committed to the implementation of PTC:

“Our first core value at KCSR is our commitment to ensuring safe operations of the railroad. It is paramount to our growth and success. The implementation of Positive Train Control is consistent with this core value and our organization is committed to its success from our initial deployment to becoming fully interoperable with other railroads.We are actively engaged with industry development activities and transforming our operations.”

Patrick J. Ottensmeyer, KCS President & Chief Executive Officer

In total, The Kansas City Southern Railway Company (KCSR) has:

  • Invested an estimated $300 Million to make PTC operational;
  • Equipped 76% of its US locomotive fleet and 78% of its US owned track;
  • Trained over 2,200 employees for PTC;
  • Installed over 3,000 pieces of wayside equipment to make PTC operational;
  • Achieved Interoperability with 4 tenant railroads;
  • Implemented 2,154 Route Miles with PTC; and
  • Equipped 17 KCSR Subdivisions with PTC

FRA Recognition of KCSR’s Full Implementation of PTC:

On behalf of FRA, and myself, I want to recognize Kansas City Southern Railway’s significant accomplishment of fully implementing an FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system on its PTC-mandated main lines before the statutory deadline of December 31, 2020. Congratulations to you and your entire team!”

Ronald L. Batory, FRA Administrator

KCSR’s current PTC status:

KCSR is committed to working with the industry on the continuing development of PTC. We are drafting industry standards, developing new functionality, expanding interoperable processes, and partnering with the industry as well as the FRA to ensure a safe and reliable system for the future. The industry as a whole had over 40 Railroads achieve PTC System Certification and full implementation.


You can see all the required PTC Route Miles in the map below:


For additional information about PTC:

FRA Positive Train Control Information: https://www.fra.dot.gov/ptc

American Association of Railroads: https://www.aar.org/article/freight-rail-positive-train-control/