With 98.8% of route miles now PTC complete, have you found Positive Train Control to be a positive or negative mandate for the railroads? (Jim Blaze)

Jim Blaze

  1. If we study current technology adaptation (like autonomous vehicles or battery technology rollout and migration), we see that the pace of innovation is picking up. Tesla is one extreme example of picking up the pace. Amazon, in its own way, is the same with e-commerce introduction. Apple with electronics.   

  2. Not the case study results with PTC. Twelve years after the federal mandate -- the execution of mainstream remote control train dispatching and BRAKING/STOP TRAIN functionality is finally "out physically across the land -- BUT far from functional maturity.

  3. Early resistance -- as if it was going to go away as a mandate -- stalled innovation and deployment.

  4. It was not, as a railroad career person would say, "our finest hour."

  5. Business case use for the customer was initially rejected by way too many industry spokespersons and consultants. They would do those business value things another way, was the reaction. Didn't require a federal mandate,

  6. However, to many of us career folks the industry did not deliver business value with other methods. Now it has a huge private communications network capability because of the PTC required two-way data links -- built upon a reported near $12 billion CAPEX cost -- and is still, for the most part, dumping the exact location GPS signals of "here I am and here behind me is the customer's valuable commodities."  "Just do a database match and show your railroad customers where their valuable stuff is." Should be a business benefit. Which railroads are doing that? Like UPS or JB Hunt can with their technology. 
  7. Mark me disappointed. We could have done better as an industry.

  8. Since the PTC network is now live -- this generation of rail leaders has a chance to make some interesting applications from which to obtain value from the SUNK cost of the PTC. Let's look forward. What can we harvest from the new system? Who's going to break through first?