New from Rockwell Collins: Shared-network PTC platform

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Rockwell Collins on June 2, 2016 launched ARINC RailwayNet℠, described as “a hosted network and messaging platform for passenger and freight railroads” for Positive Train Control, and “designed to increase safety and reliability in the railroad industry and to help railroads meet the PTC requirements mandated by the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) of 2008.”

In particular, the technology is designed to assist Class II and III and passenger railroads that may not have the same resources as Class I railroads to implement PTC. “ARINC RailwayNet leverages Rockwell Collins’ expertise to create a common communication infrastructure for all railroads,” said Denny Lengyel, Vice President, Surface Transportation Systems and Critical Infrastructure, Information Management Services (IMS) for Rockwell Collins. “ARINC RailwayNet provides the network connections and office applications required to exchange critical information among Class I railroads and their partner short line and commuter railroads. With RailwayNet, Rockwell Collins is helping short line and commuter railroads meet the PTC mandate efficiently, cost-effectively and securely.”

To that end, Rockwell Collins is utilizing a $4.9 million Federal Railroad Administration to help implement ARINC RailwayNet. The FRA grant is being used to provide technical support to participating short line and commuter railroads that need assistance implementing the office and networking segments of a PTC system and in establishing interoperability with Class I’s, as well as to develop a Planning Guide to assist smaller railroads in implementing PTC. A prior FRA grant was used to develop a proof-of-concept for Cloud Computing functions.

ARINC RailwayNet is currently available on a subscription basis as hosted SaaS (software as a service) and IaaS (infrastructure as a service) solutions. PTC messaging from the back office to the locomotive through VHF, cellular and WiFi is available now, “and additional value-added services will be available in the future,” the company said.

Lengyel and Senior Vice President IMS Dave Nieuwsma explained how Rockwell Collins has been involved with the evolution of PTC since its beginning as ATCS (Advanced Train Control System) more than 30 years ago. Lengyel is a veteran of PTC development at ARINC, having participated in ATCS specification development with the AAR in the late 1980s, as well as with CSX’s CBTM (Communications-Based Train Management) and IDOT PTC programs in the 1990s and 2000s, prior to RSIA in 2008. Today, The Rockwell Collins information management, command and control and network solutions are used throughout the rail industry.

The IMS division was created when Rockwell Collins acquired ARINC in 2013. ARINC RailwayNet includes the ATCS data links that were incorporated into PTC. “It’s built on the same Rockwell Collins mission-critical infrastructure relied upon by aviation customers around the world for more than 80 years,” the company noted.

The biggest challenge was developing the networking architecture. The four largest Class I railroads—CSX, Norfolk Southern, BNSF and Union Pacific—created a “Federated Network” to support their interoperability requirements and associated electronic communications connectivity. “ARINC RailwayNet minimizes the complexity and risk of the nationwide Federated Network by providing smaller railroads with access to Federated Network connectivity through a hosted service,” the company said. “Rockwell Collins developed ARINC RailwayNet to serve as a node on the Federated Network and enable the flow of PTC messages between Class I, commuter, short line and regional railroad operations.”

Rockwell Collins worked closely with ASLRRA (American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association) PTC Steering Committee, responding to an ASLRRA RFP for a hosted service, as well as with the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). PTC, remarked Lengyel and Nieuwsma, “has not been a sprint. It’s been a marathon,” and the extended Dec. 31, 2018 deadline “is closer than one might think.”

A white paper on ARINC RailwayNet can be downloaded at the link below. Additional information is available by clicking HERE.







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