Positive Train Control (PTC) must be up and running by December 2015. Railroads have already submitted their Implementation Plans, identifying the type of PTC system each plans to use. Every one of these systems must have Type Approval from FRA before being placed in service. To date, three different systems have gained Type Approval. Others are at various points in the Type Approval process.

This paper will provide the train control background, starting with where we were and how we got where we are with PTC mandate. The paper will survey the systems that have been approved or are in the process. For each, an overview of the technology will be provided, along with an assessment of the current state of development and the work that is needed to get to the finish line. Issues of interoperability and radio spectrum use will be highlighted.

Finally, an assessment of the “big picture” will be offered, including the roles of railroads, suppliers, and regulators.

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