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...
Safety Vulnerability Remains after PTC

Safety Vulnerability Remains after PTC

Roadway workers are not protected In 2008, the United States Congress mandated positive train control (PTC) for all passenger and freight trains, with some exceptions. Forty-two railroads are subject to the statutory mandate to implement PTC. Twelve years after PTC was mandated, serious accidents may still occur if a maintenance-of-way (MOW) vehicle unknowingly goes out of its authorized work zones. Maintenance vehicles today are not controlled nor monitored by the PTC system. An incoming train cannot be stopped even when the train is equipped with a PTC system. With the extended PTC implementation deadline of December 31, 2020 approaching, now is the perfect time to look into rail safety for maintenance-of-way vehicles and workers as a part of the PTC mandate. PTC-like protection to maintenance-of-way vehicles Positive Train Control is designed to address four problems Train-to-train collisions Derailments caused by excessive train speed Train movements through misaligned track switches Unauthorized train entry into work zones Per the AAR (Association of American Railroads) mandate, PTC shall prevent “unauthorized incursions by trains into sections of track where maintenance activities are taking place.” This mandate however does not protect maintenance vehicles that operate on the railway from running into unauthorized sections of track because majority of the maintenance vehicles do not have any warning or protection systems. Even in some limited cases when the maintenance vehicles are equipped with collision avoidance technologies, they are not integrated with the PTC systems. This imposes enormous safety risks, liabilities, and costs for the rail operators, as this type of accident typically not only incurs property damages easily exceeding $2.5M. The cost of death, injuries, and service...
Wireless Security and Key Management for Positive Train Control Systems

Wireless Security and Key Management for Positive Train Control Systems

The first 49 CFR 236.1033-compliant solution on the market: LILEE Systems Solution for Wireless Security and Key Management  In 2008, the United States Congress mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) for most passenger and freight trains. Forty-two railroads are subject to the statutory mandate to implement PTC. Railroads are required to have PTC fully implemented by December 31, 2020. The Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES) is a vital overlay system which, in combination with automatic train control (ATC), constitutes one of two major PTC systems and has been implemented by the Northeast Corridor (NEC) passenger rail operators. As of today, all NEC operators face major challenges associated with obtaining viable solutions for secure wireless communication to comply with the PTC requirements of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Originally, the NEC implementation of PTC lacked two major requirements—wireless link security and interoperability. The FRA reports that software issues related to these two requirements are the biggest roadblock. Fulfilling these mandates requires research and development, implementation, integration, and testing and commissioning (T&C) of an authentication and integrity check method and an interoperable key management technique. LILEE Systems is the first vendor to offer a complete solution that meets and exceeds all the security and interoperability requirements and that provides the best path to meeting the December 2020 PTC deadline. Security challenges that must be addressed From the regulatory perspective, the challenge is how to comply with requirements for wireless security as defined in 49 CFR 236.1033. This regulation requires that all wireless communications between the office, wayside, and onboard components in a PTC system provide cryptographic message integrity and authentication. The problem,...