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NICTD looking to recoup costs in resolving PTC software issue

South Shore Line

The South Shore Line has averted a possible shutdown over software issues with its Positive Train Control (PTC) system. But now, the railroad is accusing its contractor of breach of warranty.

PTC is a federally-mandated safety feature designed to prevent trains from speeding or crashing into each other. But Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) President Mike Noland says the South Shore's equipment failed to accept a software update that came out last November and had to be installed by the beginning of April.

"So, therefore, we were staring down the certainty that if we couldn't get the software upgrade implemented, we could not be running on April 1st," Noland told the NICTD board Monday.

He said the railroad reached out to Parsons Transportation Group, the company hired to implement the system a few years ago, but the problem still didn't get fixed. NICTD eventually hired Parsons' subcontractor, Wabtec, directly, at a cost of about $865,000.

Noland said the problem was solved, and the South Shore Line will continue to run safely. "This issue is not about safety at all. This is an issue about whether or not Parsons provided us the required warranty support," Noland explained.

The NICTD board authorized the railroad's legal counsel to take the necessary steps to recover the money from Parsons Transportation Group. Board member Jim Arnold expressed optimism that the issue can be resolved without litigation.