A NJ TRANSIT employee whose work was critical in the successful installation and certification of the new Positive Train Control (PTC) system for trains has been recognized by a leading railroad publication as a rising star. Jonathan Kirby, the Chief Road Foreman for NJ TRANSIT’s PTC system, has been named to Railway Age’s “Fast Trackers” 25 Under 40 awards for 2022.
“NJ TRANSIT applauds the selection of Jonathan Kirby for this prestigious, nationwide honor,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin S. Corbett. “Jonathan played an integral role on the team that achieved full PTC certification before the December 2020 federal deadline, and we congratulate him on receiving this well-deserved distinction.”
Kirby, a graduate of The College of New Jersey in Ewing, was a leading member of NJ TRANSIT’s team that implemented the critical certification of PTC. Working with a team of special duty road foremen, Kirby oversaw the certification process that led to the agency meeting the December 31, 2020 deadline set by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
PTC is technology that enhances rail safety by monitoring and controlling train movements. Using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, Wi-Fi and high band radio transmission, PTC is capable of automatically controlling train speeds and movements, thereby reducing the risk of accidents due to human error.
As a new technology, PTC required design, development, prototype testing, retrofitting locomotives and cab cars, installation of 326 miles of wayside equipment including radios, transponders and poles, as well as initiating PTC testing and employee training. PTC systems feature computer-based communications and information technology designed to improve railroad safety. PTC complements NJ TRANSIT’s existing cab signaling system and Automatic Train Control (ATC) technology.
Meeting the FRA’s deadline came after nearly three years of around-the-clock work for NJ TRANSIT, first to meet the interim milestone for equipment and infrastructure installation at the end of 2018, and then to achieve certification for full implementation by December 31, 2020. When Governor Murphy took office in January of 2018, the project was at just 12% completion toward the 2018 interim goal for equipment and infrastructure installation.
“It was a great feeling that we made the deadline,” said Kirby, who grew up in Audubon, New Jersey. “It showed the importance of good teamwork. I was fortunate to be a part of a very good team.”
Kirby and his team are currently working with engineers, maintaining the PTC system and continuing to enhance existing safety protocols along NJ TRANSIT’s rail system.
“PTC is continuing to evolve as new technology evolves,” Kirby said. “We will be ready to implement it.”
Kirby, 36, has been with NJ TRANSIT for 14 years.