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.
Wabtec Corp. and partner Rajant Corp. will provide high-speed wireless service for riders (740,000 annually, pre-pandemic) along the 100-mile, 15-station line between Belen and Santa Fe, which is operated by the Rio Metro Regional Transit District (RMRTD) for the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
The service will use Rajant’s Kinetic Mesh® industrial wireless networking products.
“The New Mexico Rail Runner Express deal marks an important milestone in our partnership with Rajant,” said Rajendra Jadhav, President of Wabtec’s Signaling, Communication and Wayside business. “Our complementary product portfolios enable us to provide the high-speed wireless service today’s passengers expect. The Kinetic Mesh® industrial wireless networking products are the ideal solution for New Mexico Rail Runner Express to enhance its commuter experience.”
“What we have marketed with Wabtec is a fully mobile, multi-radio, broadband solution that is simple to deploy, maintaining continuous connectivity for any application,” Rajant Senior Vice President Business Development Peter Lenard said.
“The Kinetic Mesh® wireless upgrades will provide New Mexico Rail Runner Express and its passengers the guaranteed uptime needed for the growing wireless demands of today and the future,” Rajant CEO and Co-Founder Robert Schena added.
Work is also progressing on testing and implementation of PTC.
NMRX awarded Wabtec a $55 million contract in May 2019 to implement its Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS®) PTC safety-overlay system, including all necessary wayside and communication design and dispatch upgrades. Wabtec is also providing full PTC back office server support and equipment as well as software upgrades to the NMRX fleet. The contract schedule calls for NMRX PTC assets to be in revenue service by later this year.
Rajant entered into a strategic partnership with Wabtec to jointly develop and market Rajant’s Kinetic Mesh® wireless networking products to rail operators worldwide in 2018. Wabtec made a minority equity investment in Rajant.
In related news, RMRTD is ramping up educational efforts during this year’s Rail Safety Week. Its campaign includes national and local messaging, and a series of new safety videos featuring Trax, the Rail Runner mascot (pictured below). Click here and here for more information on Rail Safety Week.