Posts Tagged ‘PTC interoperability’

FRA Says PTC Compliance at 98.8%

August 13, 2020

Positive train control has now been implemented on 98.8 percent of railroad routes that are required by law to have it the Federal Railroad Administration reported.

The report, which was current as of June 30, said nearly all railroads will be able to meet the mandate of having PTC operating in revenue service or advanced field testing by Dec. 31.

Information in the report is self reported to the FRA by the railroads.

The FRA report said PTC is in full operation or advanced field test on 56,846 of the 57,537 route-miles subject to the federal mandate, representing a 0.7 percent increase since the first quarter of 2020.

As of June 30, 76.1 percent of commuter railroads’ mandated route miles were governed by PTC technology, a 12.9 percent point increase since the last quarter.

Host railroads reported interoperability is in effect on 65.5 percent of the 220 applicable, host-tenant railroad relationships, a 17 percent point increase over the first quarter.

Interoperability refers to the ability of a PTC device on one railroad to operate on another.

The FRA said just two railroads, New Jersey Transit and New Mexico Rail Runner, are at risk of not meeting the Dec. 31 deadline for PTC implementation.

GAO Says RRs Optimistic About Meeting PTC Deadline

May 5, 2020

Although most railroads are optimistic about implementing positive train control systems by the end of this year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recently said railroads face tight schedules to get the work done.

GAO said that as of Dec. 31, 2019, 17 of the 31 railroads required to have an interoperable PTC system, meaning it can be used by all tenant railroads on its tracks, had achieved that milestone.

In total 42 railroads must have PTC fully implemented by Dec. 31 of this year.

That means having a PTC system in place that has been certified by the Federal Railroad Administration.

GAO said at the end of 2019 more than three-quarters of the railroads were conducting advanced testing or had implemented PTC on their own tracks, but had work left to reach full implementation.

In previous reports, GAO said software and vendor issues have hindered PTC implementation.

The most recent GAO report said those issues have grown more acute as many railroads face compressed schedules to meet the Dec. 31, 2020, deadline.

Railroads will need to complete some tasks tasks in a shorter time than originally planned due to software issues or other unique circumstances.

GAO said the COVID-19 pandemic create risks that could affect some railroads’ ability to meet the deadline.

The report said the FRA, vendors and railroads are taking steps to mitigate those risks.

FRA officials have worked with railroads to identify solutions to technical problems and have provided resources to regions identified as needing additional implementation assistance.

The GAO report quoted FRA officials as saying they are “closely monitoring” the effect of the pandemic on PTC implementation.

Nonetheless, GAO said it was told by the FRA, vendors and railroads that they are optimistic that they’ll overcome these challenges and achieve full PTC implementation on schedule.

Four railroads reported considering contingency plans if they, or their tenants, cannot meet the deadline, GAO officials said.

Class 1 Railroads Continue to Work Through PTC Issues

October 16, 2019

Quarterly reports issued by the Federal Railroad Administration show that the 42 railroads required to have implemented a positive train control system by then end of 2020 have made much progress toward that objective, but continue to face challenges.

As of last June 30, the FRA said PTC was in operation on about 50,300 of the 58,000 route miles required by law to have PTC. That is approaching 90 percent.

In a news release distributed in early September the agency said it continues to meet with

Railroads and equipment vendors as well as monitor implementation developments, share best practices, and jointly identify and resolve common technical problems.

Among the top challenges that railroads fact is activating PTC on their remaining mainlines and achieving interoperability.

The latter means that the locomotives of one railroad are compatible with the PTC system of other railroads over which it operates. Think Amtrak, which operates on all U.S. Class 1 systems.

The FRA said that of the 232 host-tenant relationships associated with PTC, only 50 (or 22 percent) had attained interoperability through the end of the second quarter of 2019.

Other issues railroads are deadling with include fully integrating PTC into their train operations and related work processes, and ensuring system reliability.

Organizational interoperability, which is data flow among railroad partners, is another issue that is being addressed primarily at the industry level.

Each railroad also has its own needs to address. At Norfolk Southern, for example, management expected to complete implementing PTC in the second quarter of 2020.

“We’re trying to get it in place as soon as we can do it,” said Eric Hullemeyer, director of advanced train control systems and operations for NS.

Through mid-September NS had 7,196 of its 8,008-mile PTC required system in operation affecting about 800 trains per day with the technology.

Hullemeyer told Preogressive Railroading magazine that interoperability has been a “tough nut to crack.”

NS must achieve interoperability with all other Class Is, six commuter railroads and 30 short lines.

It has reached interoperability to date with Amtrak, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NC by Train), Virginia Railway Express and CSX.

The latter is crucial because NS has more than 250 connection points with CSX, its largest interchange partner.

“Now, we’re putting our attention on the western railroads. The good news is we have much fewer connection points with the others,” Hullemeyer said.

Yet many of those are in Chicago where NS has more than a dozen interchanging railroads.

Railroads serving Chicago formed a deployment team that meets bi-weekly.

Much of the PTC implementation work in Chicago has been completed. At present the railroads are field testing and going live with each other’s  PTC systems.

“We will use Chicago as a model for best practices and lessons learned,” Hullenmeyer said.

Despite installing what officials terms a lot of onboard, wayside and back office equipment associated with PTC, the reliability of that equipment hasn’t necessarily been high.

Hullemeyer said equipment failures are to be expected with a project of this magnitude and NS continues to review them.

The story at CSX is similar. It continues to identify software defects during lab and field testing and conditional revenue service operations of its I-ETMS system related to onboard and back office systems.

Kathleen Brandt, CSX’s senior vice president and chief information officer, said much data already is being generated by 63,000 controlled devices more data will flow in after PTC is implemented.

“We estimate we will have 100 million [data] events a day after PTC is implemented,” Brandt said. CSX logs about 20 million data events per day.

In the second quarter of 2019, CSX had completed activation of all 9,670 PTC required route miles on 133 subdivisions. It initiated revenue service operations in five subdivisions during the quarter.

It must achieve interoperability with six other Class Is, eight commuter railroads and seven short lines.

Brandt said CSX likely could finish implementation before the late 2020 deadline if not for interoperability.

“We’re working now as quickly as we can on PTC, given the compatibility issue,” she said.

GAO Report Cites PTC Interoperability Issues

August 6, 2019

A Government Accountability Office report concludes that although Amtrak, commuter and freight railroads are making progress in implementing positive train control systems, significant work remains to be done to achieve interoperability among the railroad’ individual PTC systems.

The report said that as of March 31, 11 of the 31 host railroads that must have interoperable PTC systems reported that they had achieved interoperability with at least one of their tenant railroads.

Thirty-eight of the 227 host-tenant relationships that require interoperability have been completed (17 percent), the Federal Railroad Administration told the GAO.

The GAO said most railroads said that vendor and software issues were “major” or “moderate” challenges for PTC implementation.

More than half of the railroads said interoperability was a “major” or “moderate challenge,” and can be complicated by software issues and coordinating host and tenant schedules

As an example of those issues, the report said one railroad reported that certain software functionality still had to be developed, tested and implemented to address reliability issues and facilitate interoperability.

The FRA concurred with a GAO recommendation that the FRA take steps to communicate information to railroads and use a risk-based approach to ranks priorities of agency resources and workload.

FRA Reports Continued Progress in PTC Implementation

August 2, 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration reported this week that positive train control is in place on nearly 90 percent of the route miles subject to the federal mandate as of June.

FRA Administrator Ronald Batory told a Senate committee that despite that progress there remains “significant work” to be done to fully implement PTC the end of 2020.

“Nonetheless, railroads must still complete significant work to full implement their PTC systems by Dec. 31, 2020, especially with respect to activating PTC systems on the remaining required main lines and achieving the necessary interoperability with their tenant railroads,” Batory said in his prepared statement.

Through the end of June PTC was in operation on 87 percent of the 58,000 route miles subject to the federal PTC mandate, based on preliminary reports railroads provide the FRA.

Batory told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that is a 4 percent increase from the first quarter.

PTC systems are being tested in revenue service demonstration on at least 718 route miles.

Eleven freight railroads, 30 commuter railroads and Amtrak are subject to the PTC mandate.

Among the highlights of the latest PTC report are:

• Class I railroads report that PTC is in operation on 91 percent of their required main lines, which represented a 4 percent increase from the first quarter.

• Host commuter railroads have PTC in revenue service on 443 route miles and in RSD testing on 718 route miles, which represented 37 percent of their 3,111 PTC-required route miles and a 12 percent increase since the first quarter.

• Amtrak, as a host railroad on and near the Northeast Corridor and other parts of the country, reported 899 of its 900 required route miles are governed by PTC. Operations are governed by PTC on 84 percent of route miles where Amtrak operates as a tenant on other railroads’ PTC-equipped main lines.

• Six short line or terminal railroads must implement PTC on their own main lines that provide or host regularly scheduled intercity or commuter passenger rail service. One of those six has been operating its FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system in revenue service since 2018, while the other five are conducting FRA-approved field testing of their PTC systems on the general rail network. They expect to begin RSD during the third quarter.

• Batory said host railroads reported 17 percent of tenant railroads that operate on their PTC-required main lines had achieved interoperability as of March 31.

• Host railroads also reported 33 percent of their applicable tenant railroads were installing PTC hardware and 38 percent had advanced to interoperability testing as of March 31.

“The FRA is currently directing its focus and resources to the PTC-mandated main lines that have a high concentration of host railroads and tenant railroads, including commuter railroads with significant remaining work, such as the PTC-mandated main lines in the Northeast, Chicago area, Florida and Texas,” Batory said.

FRA Reports Progress in PTC Installation

August 27, 2018

A recent report by the Federal Railroad Administration shows that during the second quarter of this year most railroads made progress in installing positive train control.

Kansas City Southern said its PTC route miles of 1,389 miles covers 63 percent of its total mileage to be put under PTC control.

CSX has PTC on 5,962 of 9,713 route miles, a 62 percent increase.

Union Pacific said it has PTC on 68 percent of its 17,063 PTC route miles, Canadian Pacific has 807 route miles of PTC, Canadian National has yet to implement any route-miles requiring PTC while BNSF completed its PTC installation.

The FRA said 15 railroads have installed 100 percent of the PTC system hardware that must be installed for implementation while 12 others have installed between 95 and 99 percent of the PTC system hardware identified in their PTC implementation plans.

All railroads, except for one, that use spectrum-based PTC systems have acquired sufficient spectrum.

Railroads are facing a Dec. 31 deadline to show sufficient progress to qualify for extensions up to two years to complete PTC installation and implementation.

Fourteen of the 40 railroads that require PTC systems have qualified for extensions.

No railroad has made much progress in making their PTC systems interoperable with those of other carriers.

BNSF and Amtrak reported 25 percent and 24 percent interoperability respectively.

“The railroads have achieved some significant improvements over the past year implementing this safety technology,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory in a statement. “While we are seeing progress among a majority of railroads, we want to see everyone meet their requirements.”

FRA Hosts PTC Session

July 18, 2018

The FRA recently hosted a symposium on positive train control interoperability that was attended by representatives of 41 railroads.

The event focused on best practices for PTC system field and interoperability testing.

“Interoperability is an important milestone for all railroads working to complete PTC implementation,” said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory in a statement. “This symposium is to institute clarity on any and all questions associated with implementing PTC interoperability as set forth in the governing regulations.”

FRA regulations require a PTC system to be interoperable, which means that the locomotives of any host railroad and tenant railroad operating on the same main line will communicate with and respond to that PTC system, including uninterrupted movements over property boundaries.