Prevention of End-of-Track Collisions in Passenger Terminals via Positive Train Control: Benefit-Cost Analysis and Operational Impact Assessment

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - rail, planning - safety/accidents, planning - methods, infrastructure - station


Positive Train Control (PTC), End-of-track collisions, damage, disruption, casualties


End-of-track collisions at passenger terminals have raised safety concerns because of their potentially severe consequences such as infrastructure and rolling stock damage, service disruption, and even casualties. As introduced in the previous study sponsored by the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration, the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) systems at passenger terminal stations could potentially prevent end-of-track collisions. As the second phase of that project, this paper aims to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the proposed concept of operation via quantitatively identifying the safety benefits, incremental costs, and operational impacts associated with PTC enforcement on terminating tracks. The benefit-cost analysis indicates that the safety benefits may exceed the incremental costs over a 20-year period under specified circumstances and assumptions. In addition, the preliminary results disclose that the operational impact in PTC enforcement should be negligible, except for the rare occurrence of wayside interface unit (WIU) failure or radio failure in the Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS)-type PTC system that would result in a stop well short of the targeted point and potentially delay both onboard passengers and inbound/outbound trains. Both benefit-cost analysis and operational impact assessment methodologies are implemented in a decision tool that can be customized for different terminals with heterogeneous infrastructure and operational characteristics and be adapted to other transportation modes.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.