Protecting your MOW employees and assets

Protecting your MOW employees and assets

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...
The only complete Maintenance-of-Way (MOW) protection solution — Protect MOW vehicles after they leave tracks

The only complete Maintenance-of-Way (MOW) protection solution — Protect MOW vehicles after they leave tracks

How does the safety manager know what the MOW driver’s behaviors are like on the road? LILEE Systems understands that the need to protect MOW vehicle does not end after it leaves the tracks and enters the road. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports more than 6 million vehicle crashes, of which 90% are caused by human error. Common reasons are distracted driving, speeding and road rage. A safety solution is only effective if action can be taken to reduce safety risks and prevent accidents while the vehicle is on the road. The question is, how does the safety manager know what the driver’s behaviors are like on the road? LILEE’s SafeRide solution extends the SafeRail solution, provides useful insights about the driver, and is the only complete MOW protection solution available on the market. Protect MOW vehicles on and off the tracks How does SafeRide help? Video recordings of the drivers and road conditions are an extremely effective way to get a timely and individualized view into the driving habits of each driver, road and cabin conditions at the time a safety event is taking place. Safety events may be, triggered by sensors on the vehicle or manually by the driver with an emergency button. They may also be identified by computer vision, the most advanced technology available today. Safety event thresholds shall be customizable to allow for the major differences in different vehicle type safety-related maneuvers. Real-time alerts coupled with live look-ins (live video streaming from onboard cameras) especially enable operations managers and safety officers to provide immediate actions. Furthermore, the recorded videos of drivers, cabin...
Running the last mile of the PTC implementation

Running the last mile of the PTC implementation

The U.S. operations of the Class I railroads are closer to reaching full compliance with the federal mandate to implement positive train control (PTC) by the end of December 2020, according to data from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The data shows that Class I railroads are in 100% compliance in most of the areas as of June 30, 2020, except for two areas, that is the PTC system certification and interoperability. LILEE Systems has the experience, technical expertise, and resources to bring rail companies to full compliance and is currently helping ‘at-risk’ commuter railroads meet the deadline. Interoperability with other trains – compliance and challenges What is interoperability? Interoperability occurs when PTC system on the locomotives of a “host” railroad and “tenant” railroad operating on the same PTC-equipped line can successfully communicate, even when trains are moving over property boundaries. The last step of work is to achieve interoperability with other railroads’ individual PTC systems, which is viewed as the last piece in fulfilling the statutory mandate. Looking back, allowing multiple PTC systems created several obstacles to viable interoperability. Reports indicate that 1/3 of railroad lines subject to the PTC mandate have enabled PTC, are on the interoperable systems, or are in the initial stages of interoperability testing.  Railroads aside, many PTC suppliers are struggling to keep up with the demand for PTC systems and are facing very compressed schedules to meet the 2020 deadline.  Taking into consideration the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other unforeseen circumstances, some railroads have been able to use staff and track availability resulting from reduced operations and ridership to make progress on PTC implementation and...
Positioning Accuracy and Object Detection: Essential to Keep Maintenance-of-Way Vehicles Safe

Positioning Accuracy and Object Detection: Essential to Keep Maintenance-of-Way Vehicles Safe

Safety for maintenance-of-way vehicles and workers Rail safety is the core of what we do at LILEE Systems and as we discussed in Safety Vulnerability Remains after PTC, the job is not done with the PTC implementation at the end of 2020. Our culture of safety continues and expands to maintenance-of-way (MOW) vehicles to prevent incidents, further ensuring rail safety while driving productivity and efficiency and supporting the trend towards Precision Scheduled Railroading. Positioning accuracy matters Positioning accuracy is an essential ingredient of LILEE’s MOW Collision Avoidance Solution. When a track authority for a work zone is given to a maintenance vehicle, the sub-division name, track ID, and milepost range are assigned to the authorized vehicle. This allows the authorized vehicle to enter only the authorized track sections. However, in most cases, there are multiple parallel tracks at the location where a vehicle will be entering its authorized section of track. The accuracy in the location report in this scenario becomes very important as an error in the position report can result in collisions if the maintenance vehicle is allowed to enter incorrect track sections without a warning. Or, in the opposite case, the system can generate unwanted warnings when the maintenance vehicle is operating on its authorized section of track. LILEE’s MOW Collision Avoidance Solution includes a high precision positioning hardware which takes advantage of the location data from the multi-band (L1, L2, L5) GNSS with RTK (Real Time Kinematic), the IMU, and the vehicle CAN bus inputs (direction, throttle, speed, etc.). The built-in sensor fusion software then provides a combined positioning accuracy of 0.01 m + 1...