Train automation will be essential if trucking companies develop such things as robotic trucks that operate in platoons, according to a report in the July edition of Trains magazine.

Speaking at a Regional Railroad Association meeting in Nashville in April, Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroad chairman Matt Rose said Positive Train Control is a stepping stone to train automation, even though his railroad has not yet determined what that automation would look like, Trains Magazine Editor Jim Winn wrote.

Positive Train Control is an advanced system designed to automatically stop a train, Union Pacific has said.

PTC aims to prevent train-to-train collisions; derailments caused by excessive train speed and train movements through misaligned track switches.

PTC has had mixed reviews from locomotive engineers and conductors, who complain that it reduces the benefits of human judgment and experience at the controls.

Rose said the BNSF is running trains with PTC now — as many as 75,000 in the past 30 days, recently, according to the Trains report.

The FRA has said 12 railroads remain at risk of neither meeting the Dec. 31 deadline nor meeting the statutory criteria required to qualify for an alternative schedule.

Self-reported data from those 12 railroads indicated they had installed less than 85% of its PTC system hardware as of March 31, the FRA said Thursday, June 7.

Rose says BNSF will make the Dec. 31, deadline but the practical deadline will be 2020 because other connecting railroads will still be working on the technology, Trains reported.