The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby twropr » Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:56 pm

The ITCS suspension began on the Michigan Line July 24. Limiting trains to 79 MPH is adding about 15 min to the Kalamazoo-Porter running times; however the full impact of the slowdown is not being felt due to padding in the schedules.
I wonder if the ITCS segment over UP's former GM&O between Dwight and Pontiac, IL is still operational?
I wonder what it would cost to replace the 97-mi K'zoo-Porter section of ITCS with ACSES?
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:10 pm

This Amtrak blog post gives $110m for 206 miles of ACSES on the NEC, which seems to indicate around $500k/mile for the NEC. Accounting for single track on the Michigan Line that's closer to $150-300k/mile, so call it between $15m and $30m for the full 97 miles. In contrast, as of 2012 (Page 13) I-ETMS was estimated to cost $50,000/mile or $5-10m total.

ACSES is much more reliable, but it's a bad idea to install it in Michigan & Indiana unless Amtrak is willing to install receiver equipment on all of its Chicago-based P40/42s and the states do the same on the Chargers. It also leaves the problem of Kzoo-Detroit and Porter-Chicago, since NS will have to install PTC if the mandate stays in place - and they aren't interested in the high fixed cost of ACSES.
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby justalurker66 » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:23 pm

NS has a PTC plan for their tracks and the installation of the equipment is underway. All of the interlockings between CUS and Porter have been upgraded with new control systems and PTC. ALL tenant railroads (including Amtrak) will need to install equipment compatible with NS' PTC in order to have their engines lead trains on NS lines. (The same goes for trains running on CSX tracks ... install equipment compatible with CSX's PTC.

NS will not need to install ACSES or ITCS on their line. Amtrak is the tenant and they will need to install NS' system.

The FRA has a website full of long and booring (or perhaps interesting) documents where one can see what each railroad's plans are, including how tenant railroads are affected. One can also read progress reports (or lack of progress reports) to see what has been done by each railroad ... including how many track miles have been upgraded, how many engines have been upgraded and how much more needs to be done to meet the mandate.
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby Railjunkie » Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:19 am

A few things to add. I havent any clue about ITCS or I-ETMS, Im sure Ill get a class on one or the other once CSX gets it up and running in NYS. ACESS is what Im most familiar with and it works just fine I think only once have I had a problem with it and I think it was more the engine its self than the system. Which brings me to a couple of important points. One, it dosent relieve me of knowing my PCs. I still have to be able to run the train. The system will do it for you but its frowned upon aka FIRED. Two, if there is a problem we just cut it out and go. Again I still have to be able to run the train. Third and most importantly, WE CAN NOT TAMPER WITH ANY PART OF THE SYSTEM. IF ITS WORKING YOU WILL USE IT. YOU TAMPER YOU LOOK FOR ANOTHER JOB.
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby byte » Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:54 am

twropr wrote:I wonder if the ITCS segment over UP's former GM&O between Dwight and Pontiac, IL is still operational?


I suspect it isn't. A buddy of mine rode the Lincoln Service last weekend and kept an eye on his phone's GPS during that segment. Said the speed never rose above ~79 mph.
That old car might be worth money!
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby 8th Notch » Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:44 pm

Railjunkie wrote: I still have to be able to run the train. The system will do it for you but its frowned upon aka FIRED. Two, if there is a problem we just cut it out and go.


You will have a lot of unhappy passengers and penalty brakes if you let ACSES do the work, not to mention that it does not account for Dead Sections, Phase breaks, etc.
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby JimBoylan » Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:06 pm

8th, can ACSES be improved to do all those things?
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby Railjunkie » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:45 am

8th Notch wrote:
Railjunkie wrote: I still have to be able to run the train. The system will do it for you but its frowned upon aka FIRED. Two, if there is a problem we just cut it out and go.


You will have a lot of unhappy passengers and penalty brakes if you let ACSES do the work, not to mention that it does not account for Dead Sections, Phase breaks, etc.



If you work zones one or two you already know this but... Its been tried and the engineer in question is out a job see my posts above. I have had penalty brake application,it wasnt what I would call good train handleing I was above the brake curve coming into Inwood. The only wire I deal with is in the Empire tunnel and Michigan dosent have wire. .
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby electricron » Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:09 am

PTC is not ATC, where the engineer/driver sits back and watches the automation equipment do its thing. Engineers/drivers are suppose to be driving the train over tracks they know by heart, slowing down before the known speed reductions and signal changes...

There are automated rail systems without engineers/drivers, but these systems' operations are set in stone and vary very little. They have little flexibility - unlike the needs of most of America's freight rail network. To have flexibility with operations, human engineers/drivers running trains following a set of rules and signals are needed.
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:59 am

If you've followed my posts a while you know that I'm not exactly Hank Rearden when it comes to proper government regulation. That said, perhaps this mandate's deadline ought to be pushed back a half-dozen years until the FCC and FRA can carve out bandwidth and I-ETMS and any other PTC can work reliably 99+% of the time.
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby justalurker66 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:02 pm

When set up correctly, PTC can be the most informed Conductor to ever be in the cab. Always alert, fully knowledgeable. Programmed with the characteristics of the track and train. Fully aware of all restrictions permanent and temporary. Fully aware of how the train is being operated and (based on all information given) when the engineer needs to slow the train for the next restriction. Not susceptible to being distracted, falling asleep or boredom. Not susceptible to peer pressure from an engineer or others who might want to break a rule while operating the train.

PTC is limited in what it can do to fix any problem noted, PTC can alert the engineer (and conductor) to restrictions ahead and when it appears that the engineer is not slowing the train appropriately. Where a conductor can put the train in to emergency if ignored PTC can use penalty braking. Thus a conductor or PTC can make a train stop, but they cannot make the train go.

The challenge is to train PTC the way one would train the perfect conductor. "When set up correctly" is the key. Any system can be poorly programmed. Put someone on the tracks without telling the system that person is there and there will be problems. The same problems one would have if the perfect conductor isn't given correct information.

A second challenge is what to do with the conductor. In a perfect world conductors would remain vigilant and be ahead of the computer. But PTC makes it easier for the conductor to rely on the system and not have much else to do in the cab. Making sure that PTC is working correctly seems to be the only thing left to do.

PTC was born out of certain engineers not doing their jobs correctly and conductors who failed to stop those engineers (or in some cases colluded with the engineers). I wish there was a system that was 100% foolproof but the railroad keeps hiring better fools. It is an unforgiving occupation.

I do not know of a system that would physically prevent a track crew from blocking a track without permission or a signal maintainer from disabling equipment for testing. But these are not failures of PTC. They are failures that would cause problems regardless of PTC. The FRA did not decommission all signalling systems when it was found that engineers occasionally ignored signals. PTC should not be thrown out due to people not using the system correctly.
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby MattW » Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:40 pm

Well, actually, you could have lineside detectors that sense obstructions, any obstruction, and drops the signals, like a more sensitive slide detector. But again, calibrating it just right to not trigger on every deer, squirrel, bird, and insect would be quite the challenge. It'd also make the cost to implement PTC look like pennies by comparison.
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby twropr » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:04 pm

Today Amtrak.com shows #353 leaving Kalamazoo at 2:31 pm and arriving Niles at 3:03 pm. That's a 48.6 mile run, averaging 91.1 MPH, so I'd have to say that ITCS is back on this segment.
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby 8th Notch » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:14 pm

Ok I think we have already come to terms that PTC is not going to prevent every accident in any circumstance and if anyone is familiar with the incident at Wickford Jct that occurred in ACSES territory a few years ago, that would be prime example where PTC is not fully fool proof. "Prevention" is the key word when referring to PTC not "Elimination."
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Re: The inevitable impossible - PTC is down!!!

Postby 8th Notch » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:22 pm

JimBoylan wrote:8th, can ACSES be improved to do all those things?


I'm sure it could but it would require a lot of work that wouldn't be worth the time or
$$.
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