The Metra commuter railway company informed the federal government that it would not be able to install the positive train control safety technology on all of its Chicago-area routes in time to meet the 2018 deadline. Instead, Metra outlined an implementation plan under which it expects to satisfy certain criteria for the government to grant it an extension until the end of December 2020.
Metra expects to have some of its system operational by 2018. The 2020 alternative schedule is allowed if all PTC equipment is installed, personnel trained and several other milestones reached by the end of 2018, an objective Metra expects to meet.
Metra has said the cost of its upgrade – between USD 350 million and USD 400 million – is one factor in its delay. This year, Metra will not receive any money from the state for its USD 185.7 million in capital improvements. Consequently, Metra has had to put USD 400 million worth of capital projects on hold, and to raise fares in order to keep its positive train control program on track.
Another reason for the delay is that the technology is new and certain components have only recently become available, Metra said.