A series of high profile rail accidents, culminating in a head on collision on September 12, 2008 between a Union Pacific freight train and a METROLINK passenger train in Chatsworth, California, provided the impetus for the passage of the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) of 2008 (Public Law 110–432). The RSIA mandated the installation of Positive Train Control Systems across the US rail system by December 31, 2015. These new statutory requirements represent one of the most significant changes in US signal and train control systems since the introduction of track circuits and Centralized Traffic Control in the 1920’s. This paper discusses the background which led to the passage of the RSIA, the new PTC requirements imposed by the law, and highlights the significant changes from existing federal safety regulations associated with voluntary PTC implementations that are being adopted by the to meet the law’s requirement.

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