Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) has awarded Parsons Corp. a $45 million engineering services contract for the agency’s Train Control Modernization Project to implement CBTC (communications-based train control). CBTC is part of BART’s $3.5 billion Transbay Corridor Core Capacity Program, which includes five new traction power substations, 306 new rail vehicles and development of a maintenance complex.
Vancouver’s C$2.83 billion Broadway Subway Project is expected to move forward this year, extending the existing SkyTrain Millennium Line 5.7 kilometers (3.5 miles) and adding six stations—despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
While New Mexico Rail Runner Express (NMRX) service remains suspended due to COVID-19, work is under way to upgrade the wireless network for its commuter rail fleet, which includes nine Wabtec-manufactured Rail Runner locomotives and nine cab cars. Positive Train Control (PTC) installation also continues.
As a lifelong railroader, I’m especially pleased to join Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) and others across the nation in observing Rail Safety Week (RSW). In addition to Canada, this year we also welcome our colleagues in Mexico in helping all of us in North America to raise the profile of rail safety awareness.
RAILWAY AGE, SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE: The average freight railroad conducts thousands of interline settlements representing a significant portion of business revenue. Yet, the push to drive down working capital requirements, reduce outstanding and overdue claims mired in lengthy dispute resolution cycles and accelerate revenue recognition faces headwinds related to limitations of legacy interline settlements in most Class I, II and III railroads.
RAILWAY AGE, SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE: Whether it’s the track structure or the equipment that operates on it, there are many things that the naked eye cannot readily see. Increasingly, machine vision technology is becoming the best way to identify potential flaws before they lead to failures.
I don’t often feel the need to defend our industry’s regulator, the Federal Railroad Administration. Part of that is me. Like many who have stumbled into a career in this industry (and I literally stumbled my way into railroad employment, half-blinded and three-quarters frozen by a blizzard in Chicago), I’ve always had a problem with authority. Not that I begrudge anyone his or her authority, title, rate of pay—any of that stuff. I just don’t like other people telling me what to do, and I positively hate it when others think they need to tell me what to do.
Despite the dramatic nature of railroad accidents, conveying goods and passengers by rail is the safest form of ground transportation when compared to other modes. Railway owner-operators are continually finding and implementing new safety innovations that could help prevent accidents and disruptions to service.
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye sent warning letters to MTA’s 11 largest suppliers on Sept. 17. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacted a horrific toll in human, social and economic terms across the nation,” he noted in the letters. “I am writing to alert you that because of this financial devastation, many current and all future contracts are in jeopardy without an injection of $12 billion in emergency federal aid.”
PART 1, THE CASE FOR SYSTEM SAFETY: Industry 4.0 (also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution) is a reality. Railroads, including their partners in the transportation supply chain, are at the beginning of their journey to establishing true end-to-end digital continuity. For example, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): Positive Train Control and Enhanced Train Control; automation: autonomous inspection; AI-based automation: expanding autonomous inspection to include predictive analytics for track data. How do we know that these solutions and systems are safe and that there are no lurking issues? How do we know that the integration of multiple components from vendors, partners, and even from within meet safety objectives? How do we know if safety integrity is preserved after a change is made? How do we shift the paradigm where safety moves from a cost center to a value-added business driver? In Part I, we make the case for system safety as the necessary discipline for railroads to embed as they move forward in innovating and advancing in the 21st century.