• Positive Train Control Myths and Facts

  • General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment
General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment

Moderator: John_Perkowski

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  by Jersey_Mike
 
More "and then something happens" logic. Have you ever designed a train control system? I'm not trying to be an @ss, but it's very frustrating for people who actually work in the field to be told how "easy" something is by people who have no idea.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If technologies like PTC were easy to implement and had large benefits they would have already been developed and implemented. Instead we see speed control technologies only in the easiest use cases, ie passenger and the FEC. The Flordia East Coast case almost proves the opposite. Where conditions allow for the implementation of speed control, railroads WILL install it.
The easiest fine is a speed restriction. If you don't have working PTC your trains can't go faster than 40 MPH. Pick the speed that would get railroads to act.
The FRA is against PTC, it's not economically justifiable.
So go ahead, run your system into the safety margins ... and prepare to lose lives, your job and perhaps everything you have ever worked for when your choice becomes "reckless endangerment" in a court of law.
That's my point. Right now, today, Railroad crews run things right to the official edge and occasionally dip into the margin. Are people dying? Are the rights of way littered with corpses? No! We have perhaps one major accident every decade that could be stopped by this sort of technology. Is that worth billions of dollars and lower capacity to prevent? The risks of accidents today are completely acceptable. Simple technologies such as continuous cab signals would make things even safer. There is no need for PTC. It is a solution that only benefits those selling the product.
Last edited by Jersey_Mike on Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by DutchRailnut
 
as spoken by a true amateur signal expert !!
  by Jersey_Mike
 
as spoken by a true amateur signal expert !!
So you agree with the MTA dropping 350 million on ACSES? I guess when you train is stuck at 30mph because of a PTC failure you can collect some overtime.
  by DutchRailnut
 
I believe in not saving money on safety, no matter what cost, the one or two times in my carreer that I will get overtime is of no consequence.

FRA sets rule outlining implementation of PTC

http://www.railwayage.com/breaking-news ... pment.html

The Federal Railroad Administration late Tuesday published its ruling for implementation of positive train control (PTC) on much of the nation’s major rail route map, including those routes where passenger and freight traffic comingle. The rule takes effect in March.

In its summary of a 475-page document, 49 CFR Parts 229, 234, 235, and 236 [Docket No. FRA-2008-0132, Notice No. 3], FRA said it was “issuing regulations implementing a requirement of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 that defines criteria for certain passenger and freight rail lines requiring the implementation of positive train control (PTC) systems. This final rule includes required functionalities of PTC system technology and the means by which PTC systems will be.

“This final rule also describes the contents of the PTC implementation plans required by the statute and contains the process for submission of those plans for review and approval by FRA. These regulations could also be voluntarily complied with by entities not mandated to install PTC systems,” FRA said.
etc etc etc
  by justalurker66
 
Jersey_Mike wrote:There is no need for PTC. It is a solution that only benefits those selling the product.
What product is that?

There isn't one "PTC" that railroads buy off the shelf. That is part of the problem with the push for PTC and the discussion of it on forums like this. Everyone seems to think THEY know what PTC is based on a YouTube video of one option or their own personal experience. Everyone outside the industry seems to be failing at grasping the concept that PTC is only a concept. PTC *will* be different on different railroads.

There is no "product" to push.
  by neroden
 
jb9152 wrote:
neroden wrote:
Jersey_Mike wrote:BTW, do you realize that 22,000ton ore train is HOMOGENEOUS!! Every car ore car is the same and carries the same load. That's a piece of cake to calculate stopping curves for. Also, what is the grade profile of the line? Florida East Coast is the only major freight railroad currently using cab signal w/ speed control and surprise surprise Florida is COMPLETELY FLAT. Finally how do you teach a PTC system when its better to let a train exceed the stopping parameters because applying the air brake will lead to a runaway situation?
Competent programming. This is really easy stuff in a fully automated system.
More "and then something happens" logic. Have you ever designed a train control system? I'm not trying to be an @ss, but it's very frustrating for people who actually work in the field to be told how "easy" something is by people who have no idea.
I did say "in a fully automated system", which is the key qualifier there. :-D

See, in a fully automated system, you have to program in everything the engineer would do, already. If you're going to have trains with different handling characteristics, different problems on the line, you simply have to program in the reactions to the situation, and the schemes for detecting them, before you even start operating. It's relatively straightforward programming, but it's many many man-hours of work -- but you have to do it all anyway for a fully automated system, just to get it working. The PTC comes "free" with the automation.

The thing is, the presence of a locomotive engineer is saving a lot of money because, compared to a fully automated system, s/he's doing a lot of stuff which would have required complicated programming.

I would be unsurprised if the cost of a really good PTC system was equivalent to the cost of installing full automation on the entire railroad network. So I'm not sure I really disagree with you.
  by HoggerKen
 
Jersey_Mike wrote:
as spoken by a true amateur signal expert !!
So you agree with the MTA dropping 350 million on ACSES? I guess when you train is stuck at 30mph because of a PTC failure you can collect some overtime.
As with any cab signal system, PTC et al will have contingency rules to fall back on. With ATC today, it is "positive block in advance of movement", not restricted speed. 40 mph far from dawdling at restricted speed, which is what you will do without positive block. I am sure those trains on MTA have some sort of contingency for system failure.
  by neroden
 
Jersey_Mike wrote:
More "and then something happens" logic. Have you ever designed a train control system? I'm not trying to be an @ss, but it's very frustrating for people who actually work in the field to be told how "easy" something is by people who have no idea.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If technologies like PTC were easy to implement and had large benefits they would have already been developed and implemented. Instead we see speed control technologies only in the easiest use cases, ie passenger and the FEC. The Flordia East Coast case almost proves the opposite. Where conditions allow for the implementation of speed control, railroads WILL install it.
I know pretty much every engineer will hate this thought, but there is a potential large commercial benefit to PTC. With a sufficiently good PTC system, trains can be fully automated. The savings in pay would quite likely compensate the business for the cost of the system, and it is technically feasible given carefully inspected, well-managed equipment.

Of course it can't be done while you're getting arbitrary cars with unknown history and conditions interchanged, which means none of them have had the incentive to switch unilaterally. Even if they did have the incentive, they'd have a major union fight on their hands, and they might well have a major political fight -- how do you think local city councils would respond to the first trespasser to be killed by an unmanned train?
  by DutchRailnut
 
Correct, a ATC failure now allows for 59 mph on MNCR , with 15 through interlockings, on Amtrak the speed is higher, 79 I believe if waysides are available.

As for what kind of PTC, there should be one standard, either ACSES or ERTMS, no self developed re-inventings of the wheel.
With both the ACSES and ERTMS the research has been done and system is workable, by going with a proven off shelf system the cost can be contained.

Automated trains work well in guarded right of ways like subways or elevated railways, on ground level railroads the guy operating the train is the responcible link to blame failure on.
If you explain to media the engineer made a mistake its a no brainer to traveling public.
you tell them the system failed, noone will be on trains till their safe again.
  by RogerOverOutRR
 
With a sufficiently good PTC system, trains can be fully automated. The savings in pay would quite likely compensate the business for the cost of the system, and it is technically feasible given carefully inspected, well-managed equipment
While we are at it, let's try and sell the idea to the airlines. You have this mindset that if it works on some self-contained subway system, it can work on the railroads. Who is going to trouble shoot the equipment when something breaks? The train is going to sit for length of time before anyone shows up? There are so many scenarios.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
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Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by Jersey_Mike
 
I believe in not saving money on safety, no matter what cost.
You should examine your statement for logical consistency. You are saying that we should spend an infinite amount of money to save a single life. Fortunately our Federal Government is a bit more logical than you and the knee jerks in Congress and sets the value of a human life at 2 million dollars for regulatory cost benefit analysis.

BTW, thanks for the link. Oh look what we have here!!!
Amtrak is offered some leeway under the new rule, after it had noted that implementing PTC on some low-traffic rail routes could jeopardize state fiscal support for new services. The new rule also allows FRA to set a minimal exception to when freight lines have to install PTC for hauling hazmat loads.
Wow, the FRA is ALREADY weakening the "all passenger and TIH lines" mandate. I knew there had to be a good deal of wiggle room built into the enabling legislation. I am assuming that low-traffic probably means 2 or fewer trains per day. If the FRA was not able to grant these sorts of exceptions trains like the Vermonter and Cardinal may have met the chopping block. Do you see why this mandate was so dangerous? If it had been implemented like Nelly-Bly wanted we would have surely lost trains. Fortunately the FRA is able to step in and act like an adult. I'm expecting some blanket waivers when the 2016 deadline is unable to be met.
Correct, a ATC failure now allows for 59 mph on MNCR , with 15 through interlockings, on Amtrak the speed is higher, 79 I believe if waysides are available.
The draft FRA requirements outlined a 30mph speed restriction if the PTC box in the cab failed. I am guessing that will probably be changed, but the more you complicate the plumbing the easier it is to stop up the drain.
As for what kind of PTC, there should be one standard, either ACSES or ERTMS, no self developed re-inventings of the wheel.
With both the ACSES and ERTMS the research has been done and system is workable, by going with a proven off shelf system the cost can be contained.
How many fatal train to train collisions have there been on Metro North over the last 30 years? Now tell me what your return on investment is for this 350 million over the next 30 years.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
RogerOverOutRR wrote:While we are at it, let's try and sell the idea to the airlines
Off topic, but that is not really a laugh, Mr. Over and Out.

An American Flight Attendant, a dear friend and neighbor who deceased much too early in this life last summer, once said to me "Honey, if Bob (Crandall) had his way, we'd be flying about in DRONES".
  by DutchRailnut
 
MNCR is poor example since they already have full Cabsignal/ATC on all lines but the Danbury and Waterbury branches.
The cost of 350 million may seem astronomical but this includes 700 plus miles of track, 40 locomotives, 48 cab cars 90 or so New Haven cars.
and entire fleet of M-7's to retrofit with ACSES.
Plus the equipment for West of Hudson services including 14 locomotives and around 18 cab cars and the New York portion of the Port Jervis line and Pascack Valley line.
In 30 years I know of one fatal incident( rear ender at Mount Vernon East), and if that could have been prevented it would have been worth 350 million to his family and his fellow workers.
  by jb9152
 
RogerOverOutRR wrote:
Your point about engineers knowing where code drops are, even if there's no corresponding wayside signal (which is the case in "cab no wayside" systems, or where there are code rate timers) is an illustration of my previous point about engineer "pre-action". I don't really have an opinion one way or the other in this case, but your point that this illustrates professionalism on an engineer's part (pre-acting to code drops) is in direct contradiction to Jersey Mike's.
I think you failed to see that I was disagreeing with your thought that Engineers do not think, and just react subconsciously. This is all part of an Engineers knowledge, which requires thought.
No, I saw it. I just don't agree. Are you an engineer? Have you ever operated a train?
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