AUSTIN – Capital Metro has received $9.76 million in federal grants to upgrade MetroRail’s infrastructure and add new safety features.

CapMetro said the grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will go toward adding “Positive Train Control (PTC)” systems along the MetroRail corridor. PTC systems are designed to prevent derailments or train-to-train collisions, and to ensure trains are not guided onto the wrong track due to a switch being in the wrong position.

The federal government requires rail operators to implement PTC systems by the end of 2018, and CapMetro said the funding was authorized in the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, and that its grant award was one of 17 projects in 13 states that received funding.

“We’re grateful to the U.S. DOT, the FRA and the FTA for this grant funding,” said Capital Metro President/CEO Linda Watson in a prepared statement. “It will assist us in meeting the federal deadline to install PTC systems and continue to provide safe rail service for Central Texas. We especially want to thank Sen. John Cornyn and Congressmen Michael McCaul and Roger Williams for the tremendous support they have given to the agency during this process.”

CapMetro will also install a fiber communications network for an Enhanced Automatic Train Control (E-TAC) PTC system. MetroRail has 81 highway-rail grade crossings along the Red Line, and CapMetro says the new system will allow for faster response times for issues with crossing signals. It added they estimate the project to be complete by the end of 2018.