Opinion Columns & Blogs

Congress right to delay problematic railroad upgrade

Congress is rarely due praise for putting things off. One exception is last week’s bipartisan action by the House and Senate to extend the deadline for implementation of positive train control (PTC) technology by three years. It was part of the bill, signed Oct. 29 by President Obama, to keep the highway trust fund from going belly-up short term. The rail industry recognizes the need for the high-tech safety upgrade. But the costly mandate proved so problematic that Kansas, for one of many examples, risked losing Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route in a PTC funding dispute about track owned by Kansas City Terminal. As Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, said in a statement, the December 2015 deadline also posed “a significant threat to business sectors that rely on freight rail to move their products. Without this extension, Kansas farmers and manufacturers will be unable to get their products to market, resulting in significant job losses and price increases across the board.” Thanks are due Pompeo and all who worked to alleviate that threat for now. – Rhonda Holman