South Shore line to shut down at end of 2015 unless Congress grants extension on technology requirement

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By: Krystal Vivian kvivian@953mnc.com

The South Shore Line, which stops at the South Bend International Airport, will shut down at the end of the year if Congress doesn’t grant an extension requiring a new piece of railway technology.

Congress is requiring that all railroads in the United States install “PTC” — or Positive Train Control — technology by Jan. 1, 2016. PTC automatically stops trains in certain situations where crashes are likely to happen, according to a news release from Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which runs the South Shore.

NICTD won’t be able to meet the deadline because its initial price quote for installing PTC was $120 million, more than the company expected. The company is still negotiating with an engineering firm that would install PTC.

The NICTD board voted Friday, Oct. 2, in favor of shutting down the train service Jan. 1 if Congress doesn’t extend the deadline, WSBT reported. The board also voted on a resolution urging Congress to extend the deadline to Dec. 18, 2018.

The Metra Board in Chicago voted Sept. 25 to shut down its railroad lines if an extension isn’t granted, according to NICTD.

Indiana lawmakers, including Rep. Jackie Walorski, Sen. Joe Donnelly and Sen. Dan Coats have called for an extension.

A bill was introduced Sept. 30 to the U.S. House of Representatives to extend the deadline to the end of 2018, the Chicago Tribune reported. If passed by the end of the year, the bipartisan bill would prevent the shutdown of NICTD, Metra and other railroad lines.