Posts Tagged ‘PTC testing’

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.

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 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.

South Shore to Start PTC Testing

April 5, 2018

The South Shore commuter line in Indiana will begin live testing of its positive train control system next week.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which oversees the commuter service between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, said PTC testing will be conducted throughout its entire network.

South Shore trains are using Interoperable Train Management System software and hardware designed by Wabtec of Wilmerding, Pennsylvania.

Last December, the South Shore told the Federal Railroad Administration that it had equipped just 19 of its 73 locomotives and cab cars with PTC equipment.

It also said at the time that it had not completed testing sufficient to qualify for an FRA extension beyond the federal Dec. 31, 2018, deadline for PTC installation.