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Positive Train Control

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NS is on track with its PTC Implementation Plan to meet the 2018 and 2020 goals and was conditionally certified by the FRA in May 2017. PTC, or Positive Train Control, is technology designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive speed, unauthorized incursions by trains into sections of track where repairs are being made, and movements of a train through an improperly aligned track switch.

The U.S. Congress has required that railroads install PTC on tracks that carry passenger trains or toxic-by-inhalation materials. The installation of PTC capability involves work on thousands of locomotives; a large new wireless communications network; and thousands of trackside devices connected to signals, switches, and other wayside devices.

Railroads have devoted enormous human and financial resources to develop a fully functioning PTC system.

»Several of the Norfolk Southern employees who have led the company’s efforts to develop and deploy the positive train control safety technology discuss the work and complexities involved in this video.

Here is a summary of Norfolk Southern’s progress through first-quarter 2018

The NS Engineering team has installed 

  • 3,573 radio towers
  • 3,442 wayside interface units
  • 139 switch position monitors
  • 3,183 wayside radios
  • 396 base station radios


The NS Mechanical team has installed and readied

  • 2,594 locomotives with onboard computers
  • 2,594 locomotives with PTC displays
  • 2,456 locomotives with PTC-capable event recorders
  • 2,594 locomotives with PTC-220 radios

We have 2,594 locomotives Fully-equipped and PTC Operable.


The NS Operations team is providing PTC training

NS has trained more than 18,438 employees and their supervisors, as required, on job-specific PTC material using hands-on, simulator, video, online, instructor-led and train-ride methods to deliver training.



Advanced Train Control, Information Technology and Operations teams have been testing our PTC system implementation for years.

  • NS continued to verify and validate the PTC system in its Atlanta PTC lab with experts in the system and quality assurance. To date, we’ve tested over 13,521 scenario iterations of PTC states and functions and more than 138 iterations of software releases. Field acceptance testing occurs as new releases are ready for implementation.

  • At the end of 1Q 2018, NS was operating PTC trains with NS transportation crews in revenue service across 3,782 miles of its PTC-required track.

NS also is working with 30 railroads to ensure our PTC operations will be interoperable.



October 30, 2015
Norfolk Southern Revokes Previous Notice of Cessation of Service for PIH Commodities

October 30, 2015
Norfolk Southern statement regarding extension of Positive Train Control deadline

October 20, 2015
Norfolk Southern announces service changes in response to upcoming Positive Train Control deadline

October 20, 2015
Notice of Cessation of Service Effective December 1, 2015, for All Shipments of Poisonous-Inhalation-Hazard (“PIH”) Commodities

September 17, 2015
A PTC message for NS’ valued customers

September 9, 2015
Letter to Sen. Thune outlines NS perspective.

Access GoRail's Advocacy Action Center

Visit the AAR to learn more about Positive Train Control.