Private Dinner and Demo at RSSI 2021

Private Dinner and Demo at RSSI 2021

PTC 2.0: Rail Safety for Maintenance-of-Way (MOW) Workers and Vehicles By now, almost everyone in the rail industry is familiar with the four objectives that Positive Train Control (PTC) was designed to address. In particular, new standards and technologies were developed to prevent train-to-train collisions and unauthorized entry by trains into protected work zones. Time has proven that these solutions have been highly effective to improve rail safety. As a company, however, we asked ourselves a simple question – for PTC 2.0, how can we extend similar protections to other vehicles operating on or near the tracks which aren’t trains? Despite rules and operational procedures that are in place to protect workers operating maintenance-of-way (MOW) vehicles, the potential for costly – and sometimes deadly – accidents still occur. When talking with customers about these types of accidents, we learned that their concerns were not based on any of the current processes being ineffective; it was about the vulnerabilities imposed when the potential for human error is introduced. That is what we are trying to eliminate with the next generation collision avoidance technologies. For example, one rail operator experienced an incident with a MOW vehicle working on a track adjacent to the main track. Although the foreman had properly received authority to progress with trackwork on that track, the work equipment utilized on that adjacent track was still capable of fouling the main track. An incident occurred when the operator failed to notice that the work equipment was fouling the main track envelope as the other work vehicle was approaching. An advanced AI-based object detection system would bring value to this scenario...
Communication Redundancy for the ACSES PTC System

Communication Redundancy for the ACSES PTC System

Operational Risks for the Northeast Corridor Rail Line Positive Train Control (PTC) is a communication-based train control system designed to prevent train accidents by automatically controlling train speeds and movements if the train operator fails to take the appropriate action. There are two main PTC systems, I-ETMS (Interoperable Electronic Train Management System) and ACSES (Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System), both of which reply on reliable wireless communications to transmit train control messages in a timely manner. Carrying over 800,000 passengers daily, the Northeast Corridor is the nation’s busiest passenger rail line that uses the ACSES PTC system. Timely updates of PTC messages, such as the interlocking signal status and temporary speed restrictions, are critical for safe and efficient train operations. However, the train-to-ground communication of the ACSES PTC system is currently based on the 220 MHz radio spectrum, and the lack of communication redundancy and diversity is creating operational risks to the Northeast Corridor rail operators. For example, a missing or delayed PTC message could cause the onboard system to fall back to the most conservative speed restriction, resulting in train delays, train stops, and reduced passenger satisfaction. Communication Capacity and Reliability Concerns with a Single 220 MHz Radio The number of trains, the complexity of the interlocking, and the amount of data to be sent onto the onboard systems all affect the bandwidth utilization of the 220 MHz base stations in the Northeast Corridor. Taking the Harold Interlocking for example, the large railroad junction in New York with over 40 trains per hour during rush hour, the train operations can easily consume all the available bandwidth with no...
Streamlining Your Network Operations by Consolidating the Radio Codeline Over the PTC Network

Streamlining Your Network Operations by Consolidating the Radio Codeline Over the PTC Network

CTC (Centralized Traffic Control) which is currently based on a very narrow licensed 900 MHz radio band is about to be abandoned because of the FCC modifying the 900 MHz band allocations. Radio hardware manufacturers are ending the production of the radios and will soon discontinue the support for these radios. FCC promised the band transition without the disruption for the railway service, and we have yet to see how this will be executed. Rail industry cannot just sit and wait, however. Seeing the growing trend of using 220 MHz PTC (Positive Train Control) data communication infrastructure as an infrastructure for the future CTC messaging and based on its expertise in network communications and intimate knowledge of PTC, LILEE Systems developed the first complete solution for CTC-over-ITCM (Interoperable Train Control Messaging). CTC-over-ITCM Technology LILEE supports CTC-over-ITCM technology through a software module installed on LILEE’s STS-1000 family of Wayside Messaging Servers (WMS). This software module – known as an “FG” or Field Gateway – acts as a “protocol converter” for standardizing messages in the field into the EMP (edge messaging protocol) format that can be distributed to the office. Through the various serial and Ethernet ports available on the STS, existing field logic controllers can interface with the STS using native protocols and converted to an EMP message by the Field Gateway software module before being transmitted to the office. In the back office, these EMP messages which include CTC data are retrieved from one of the queues on the ITCM and distributed to a COG (Consolidated Office Gateway). The COG converts this CTC message formatted in EMP into its...
LILEE SafeRail, Complete Collision Avoidance System with Work Zone Limits Compliance

LILEE SafeRail, Complete Collision Avoidance System with Work Zone Limits Compliance

I have often been asked why we designed our LILEE SafeRail system to include not only collision avoidance functionality but also limits compliance for maintenance-of-way (MOW) equipment. The answer is simple: collision avoidance alone will not prevent the types of accidents that we seek to prevent. To be fair, there are many systems on the market that claim “collision avoidance” for on-track vehicles. However, these systems offer different approaches that only address collision avoidance from a technical perspective, which alone is insufficient to prevent the safety issues that we know exist today. Moreover, simply because two or more vehicles are protected by a collision-avoidance system does not prevent the vehicles from hazards such as work zone limits violations. Challenges to be urgently addressed PTC (Positive Train Control) was fully implemented in the end of 2020. While the training and technology in the railroad industry have made it one of the safest places to work, automation and new technologies can further address the industry’s unique challenges when it comes to roadway worker protection and MOW vehicles. Consider the potential for the following incidents: A collision between two or more MOW vehicles or between an MOW vehicle and MOW equipment operating within an authorized work zone An incident where an operator of MOW equipment unknowingly violates the working limits that have been assigned or movement authority granted A MOW vehicle accidentally placed on an adjacent track where protection has not been granted False impending collision alarms generated by MOW vehicles working on adjacent tracks due to imprecise location determination Movement of a MOW vehicle within an authorized work zone that violates the...
PTC 2.0: Taking railroad safety beyond the original PTC

PTC 2.0: Taking railroad safety beyond the original PTC

What is next in railroad safety? As of December 29th, 2020, PTC (Positive Train Control) is operational on all required freight and passenger railroad route miles. The 41 railroads subject to the statutory mandate have worked for more than a decade to achieve this unprecedented landmark or what FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory called “unprecedented undertaking” for almost 100 stakeholders, from freight and commuter railroads to suppliers and industry associations. Nevertheless, improving and optimizing railroad safety never ends and railroads are exploring the next steps to mitigate more safety hazards. LILEE Systems, a trusted PTC partner from the very beginning, has a vision and a product to make what some people call PTC 2.0, today. From FRA’s vision to LILEE’s vision From the beginning of this century, FRA had a vision of what a PTC system should include: “…. PTC systems issue movement authorities to train and maintenance-of-way crews, track the location of the trains and maintenance-of-way vehicles, have the ability to automatically enforce movement authorities, and continually update operating data systems with information on the location of trains, locomotives, cars, and crews….” (partial vision). Here at LILEE, we took this vision to our hearts and minds and developed the first maintenance-of-way safety system that provides Limits Compliance and Collision Avoidance for MOW vehicles on the tracks and the road. Vehicle position accuracy: The solution integrates the newest technologies that were not available 20 years ago. For example, many railroads are looking into implementing PSR (Precision Scheduled Railroading) and the knowledge of the exact location of the train is essential, even when there are tunnels and bridges and other...