BNSF began developing and testing a PTC system before the first Congressional mandate made in 2008. BNSF was the first and only freight railroad to operate PTC starting in 2012 and continues to be the leader in Class I railroad operations with PTC on freight lines. The industry-wide change is arguably one of the most significant changes for railroads – bigger even than the conversion from steam to diesel-powered locomotives.
PTC is a technology overlay of existing train operations that stops trains before certain type of accidents occur. It is a predictive, advanced safety technology designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, enforce speed limits, protect roadway workers and equipment, and ensure trains go through switches safely and efficiently.
The technology uses GPS, Wi-Fi and high-band radio transmission to:
- Determine location, direction and speed of a train
- Warn locomotive engineers of a potential problem
- Take action by stopping the train