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Audit Initiated of DOT Oversight of Federal Transportation Funding for Positive Train Control Projects

Request from the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Project ID: 

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 required the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) across a significant portion of the Nation’s rail system by December 31, 2015. Congress later extended this deadline by 3 years—to December 31, 2018—with the possibility of an additional 2-year extension for limited, justifiable circumstances. To date, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have provided more than $915 million in grants to support railroads’ mandated implementation of PTC systems. However, according to the most recent update from FRA, only 27 percent of freight-rail route miles and 23 percent of passenger-rail route miles had fully operational PTC systems as of the first quarter of 2017.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation asked us to review FRA’s and FTA’s oversight of Federal funding or financing for PTC projects and recipients’ use of the funds. Accordingly, we are initiating a multipart audit to address the Chairman’s concerns. The initial phase of the audit will (1) identify railroads that received DOT funding or financing to support PTC projects and (2) describe those PTC projects. The second phase will (1) assess FRA’s and FTA’s oversight of PTC funding allocations and (2) determine whether recipients have used awarded funds “completely and efficiently.”