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Trinity Railway Express fast-tracking technology upgrades to beat Dec. 31 deadline

DART board chair Sue Bauman called that “the doomsday scenario” and said Thursday she was happy to back away from the contingency.

“I’m encouraged,” she said. “It looks like we are in position now for the waiver. Staff has been working very, very diligently on this.”

As of Oct. 5, all necessary Positive Train Control hardware had been installed on the TRE lines and rail cars. None of the equipment was installed in April, when the Federal Railroad Administration followed up on a notice of potential non-compliance from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

DART Vice President Timothy McKay said that by the end of October, all of the communication software and devices will be installed and that about two-thirds of the staff will be trained.

“It’s always tough to comply with unfunded mandates because there’s so many other needs for the money,” Dallas City Council member Lee Kleinman said. “But it does seem like we’re right here at the end racing on a schedule that’s been out there for 10 years.”

Federal officials will meet with DART next week, develop the application for an alternative schedule by the end of the month and formally submit the request in mid-November. Federal Railroad Administration approval of the alternative schedule would come within days of the deadline, McKay said in Thursday’s presentation.

The TRE runs Monday through Saturday. It connects downtown Dallas to downtown Fort Worth, with a total of 10 stops in Dallas, Irving, Richland Hills and Fort Worth.

The announcement was made at the monthly meeting of the Regional Transportation Council, which committed $25 million for Positive Train Control on the TRE and Denton County Transit Authority’s A-Train.

“The good news is that Congress is weighing in with regard to the safety of the people on our train,” said Michael Morris, transportation director for the council of governments. “The hard part, for the people in the real world to do this is the very tight time frame with limited supply capabilities for contractors.” 

The A-Train has installed all hardware and put many of its 50 employees through the required month-long training on Positive Train Control equipment. 

“They are just waiting on approval from the Federal Railroad Administration to begin revenue service demonstration,” which should happen by the end of November, Stevenson said.