Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil bridg

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Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil bridg

Postby Alcochaser » Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:51 pm

https://www.federalregister.gov/documen ... nal-system

Amtrak has petitioned the FRA to remove the derail protection from the Inwood interlocking, which protects the Spuyten Duyvil bridge.

Reason given is that the Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (PTC) and 100hz coded cab signals make them superfluous.
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Re: Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil b

Postby mmi16 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:14 pm

In theory - they are correct.

In practice, if it is made by man it can fail. ACES and cab signals have not PROVEN that they can't fail.
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Re: Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil b

Postby Backshophoss » Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:21 pm

FRA might want a "fail safe" on the "Positive Stop" in ACSES,ie,Positive stop signal untill the bridge "locks up" solid and and all
systems confirm the bridge status is Locked up. This will done on both sides of the bridge.
if one sub system fails, cannot release Positive Stop signal in any direction.
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Re: Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil b

Postby RRspatch » Wed Jun 28, 2017 10:04 am

mmi16 wrote:In theory - they are correct.

In practice, if it is made by man it can fail. ACES and cab signals have not PROVEN that they can't fail.


PTC is still a very much work in progress. During my days at BNSF (I'm now retired) I had trains call me telling me there PTC had cut out or would not let them go by a signal showing an aspect greater than STOP. Many times I had a train tell me they had a CLEAR on a signal in the field but had a "Red Fence" (RED hash marks meaning STOP across the screen). They would either have to cut their PTC out or "unmap" to get past the signal and then re-initialize once past the signal. This was sometimes caused by a bad transmitter at the signal or equipment failure on the locomotive.

By the way, once the PTC law does go into effect (we're still basically in the beta phase) a train with a failed PTC system will be limited to 40 MPH .... or so I've been told. That's still pretty fast to be approaching an open bridge ....

My guess is the FRA will say NO ..... at least for now.
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Re: Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil b

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:03 am

What benefits come from removing the derails? Is this just Amtrak's way of saying, "We ain't gonna open Spuyten Duyvil no more, so deal with it"?
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Re: Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil b

Postby Ridgefielder » Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:20 am

mtuandrew wrote:What benefits come from removing the derails? Is this just Amtrak's way of saying, "We ain't gonna open Spuyten Duyvil no more, so deal with it"?

Maintenance. It would eliminate a mechanical failure point on a 117-year old moveable bridge.

Spuyten Duyvil is probably opened more than any other moveable bridge in the Five Boros with the possible exception of the Arthur Kill lift bridge. Closed, there's only 5' of vertical clearance over Mean High Water-- anything larger than a Boston Whaler needs the bridge to be opened. Every other Harlem River crossing can clear at least 25' closed, enough for most pleasure & police boats and the Circle Line. There is no way the Coast Guard would let Amtrak convert this to a fixed span.
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Re: Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil b

Postby Alcochaser » Wed Jun 28, 2017 6:18 pm

RRspatch wrote:
mmi16 wrote:In theory - they are correct.

In practice, if it is made by man it can fail. ACES and cab signals have not PROVEN that they can't fail.


PTC is still a very much work in progress. During my days at BNSF (I'm now retired) I had trains call me telling me there PTC had cut out or would not let them go by a signal showing an aspect greater than STOP. Many times I had a train tell me they had a CLEAR on a signal in the field but had a "Red Fence" (RED hash marks meaning STOP across the screen). They would either have to cut their PTC out or "unmap" to get past the signal and then re-initialize once past the signal. This was sometimes caused by a bad transmitter at the signal or equipment failure on the locomotive.

By the way, once the PTC law does go into effect (we're still basically in the beta phase) a train with a failed PTC system will be limited to 40 MPH .... or so I've been told. That's still pretty fast to be approaching an open bridge ....

My guess is the FRA will say NO ..... at least for now.


The form of PTC you are familiar with, isn't being run on Amtrak and the other passenger lines in the east.

There are basically two main forms of PTC. And just like the old Betamax and VHS tapes of old, they are different ways of doing the same thing.

The freight railroads have settled on a technology called I-ETMS.
Image
The advantage to it is that it is heavy on the wireless technology. But that is also it's Drawback too. Right now they are using some 220MHZ frequencies for the engine to communicate with the engine. The problem is that another government agency (The FCC) is limiting the radios to a measly 5 watts. The problems are dead spots. Places where the weak signal is having trouble talking to the locomotive.

i-ETMS doesn't even need a CTC system to be installed on a line. There is a flavor that can be installed on a dark line. Instead of having antennas at the signals, Antennas will be at hand throw switches and spaced along the line. It will stop trains getting to close to an open switch on a dark line and help prevent collisions

I-ETMS is by FAR the cheapest of the two main flavors. (Well unless you try to install it in a tunnel, I won't got into details, but since you can't talk to GPS in a tunnel, wiring has to be installed in the tunnel to talk to the locomotive to keep it from going into penalty. Its a massive pain in the arse.)

Both technologies will integrate with Pulse Code Can Signaling. ACSES requires it to work right. I-ETMS is designed to work without it, but can accommodate it in places the Railroads have some "legacy" installs of it. (PRR,RF&P,UP, elsewhere)

I mentioned ACSES. This is the "Cadillac" system.
https://w3.usa.siemens.com/mobility/us/ ... _ACSES.pdf
Instead of relying on GPS and wireless so much. This tech uses transponders (that work much like car tracing tags on freight cars) between the rail to communicate the information to the Locomotive. It uses some 220mhz but it's much less dependent on it. It is 10 times more robust. The downside is that it costs a TON. Not only on the lineside infrastructure but on the equipment installed on the locomotive.

There is an oddball third system. It's the ITCS installation on the Amtrak Michigan Line. That system has been ruled to count as being a PTC system. It operates somewhat like I-ETMS but has some added features.

The odd thing is that Amtrak is going to attempt to run. ACSES and I-ETMS at the same time in places. I don't know how this is going to work out. But the freight carrier trains would use I-ETMS and the Passenger trains would use ACSES. I think this is proposed for the NS Port Road to Baltimore trains.
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Re: Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil b

Postby mmi16 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:05 pm

The Amtrak diesel engine will have to be equipped to operate on the I-ETMS lines of the freight carriers Amtrak operates over.
With MARC operating their diesels on all their lines - Brunswick, Camden and Penn, those locomotives (and cab cars?) will have to be equipped with I-ETMS as well as ACSES (or restrict where individual pieces of equipment can operate thus decreasing the overall operational efficiency of the equipment.)
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Re: Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil b

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:12 pm

ACSES + I-ETMS are also going to coexist two places in MBTA territory where Amtrak runs:

-- CSX Boston Line overlap: Worcester-Framingham (cab signal territory). Used by MBTA Worcester Line, AMTK Lake Shore Ltd. CSX responsibility to fund/install/debug the I-ETMS overlap.
-- Pan Am freight main overlap: Andover-Haverhill (no cab signals/permanent cab signal ban). Used by MBTA Haverhill Line, AMTK Downeaster. MBTA responsibility to fund/install/debug.

Reason being that these co-installations are each optimized for the braking profile of passenger vs. mainline freight. On a freight local it's not going to matter that much if a freight has to work with ACSES; that's already been done for 15 years on the Shoreline with P&W and CSX locals, including some pretty hefty P&W autorack trains in Rhode Island. It just gets cumbersome to have a less-than-optimal operational profile to obey when it's those big honking CSX intermodal trains running all-day/every-day to Worcester, Westborough, and Framingham for re-supplying the locals' main sorting yard. Ditto up north for Norfolk Southern & Pan Am on the Patriot Corridor into Ayer, and then Lawrence and Portland on what's going to be a double-stack upgraded corridor within 8-10 years.


The CSX I-ETMS install is a real nothingburger because the ACSES install on that cab signaled portion of Worcester Line will come much sooner, the passenger trains won't interface with the I-ETMS overlay at all, and if CSX misses the deadline for installing I-ETMS on that overlap their freight trains will simply default to the ACSES that came first and deal with its crappier-performance freight braking profile until they catch up. All power cycled by CSX into New England from Selkirk already has ACSES units for handling 3 Eastern MA locals that overlap small portions of the NEC, so nobody gets an FRA fine for being late there. The LSL will switch from ACSES to solo I-ETMS at Worcester for travels west...back to ACSES at Albany-Rensselaer (Post Road Branch exempt from mandate because it only hosts 2 train movements per day)...back to solo I-ETMS at Hoffmans when it re-engages the freight main. Should the Inland Route plans go to fruition the ACSES overlap would be extended west from Worcester to Springfield Union Station to handle the heftier slate of passenger schedules, passenger trains would obey ACSES and tune out the pre-existing I-ETMS, freights would ignore the new ACSES and just obey the pre-existing I-ETMS, and the LSL would switch from ACSES to I-ETMS upon crossing the diamond onto the bridge over the Connecticut River.

The Pan Am install in T + Downeaster territory is a source of controversy because Pan Am is disputing its inclusion in the PTC mandate and making threats at every planning move the T makes...even though they're getting a free ride for their loco installs. That's also the only place where the cab signal-less version of ACSES will have to interface with the I-ETMS overlay, so it's going to be a debugging adventure to boot. It's the very last T installation estimated, and they're pegging it at a 12/31/2020 completion (tacit admission: "We're probably gonna miss deadline; please help us now instead of chopping our legs off later, pretty please!"). Chances of erupting into a total poopshow in 3 years: pretty excellent. :(
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Re: Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil b

Postby MattW » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:46 pm

All this talk of "overlay" and "ignoring" makes the spidey-sense of the engineer in me tingle. I feel like we're going to have an incident in these overlapped territories where one system says go, the other says stop...and the one saying stop is the one that's right.
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Re: Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil b

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:17 am

The systems are tied in at the back-office on the same computers, so each overlay obeys the same master and are never out-of-sync with each other at the source. What's far, far more likely is that when the signal gobblins make mischief in the field you're just going to get everyone defaulting to "STOP", there'll be more schedule delays to contend with because of that extra 'virtual tripwire' when the dueling PTC's are out-of-phase, and the signal dept. will have more wild goose chases to debug finding the ghost in the machine on the particular stretch of track where these conflicts occur.


Safety shouldn't be an issue where the cab signals are still online backing it all up, so that's still there enforcing stops. And the degree of overlap is very limited in ACSES territory. As I said, CSX already runs all locos on Boston Div. rotation with ACSES-equipped units because of the local jobs that hit the existing NEC installation. In lieu of having any sort of New England engine house, the locos they send in from Selkirk to Worcester on a heavy IM train will rotate into Framingham to go "on residency" for a few days on the local jobs before being blocked back into another Selkirk-bound IM train to head home and refuel. Therefore, if the I-ETMS overlap goes glitchy during commuter rush hour on the mainline between Worcester and Framingham the bail-out that keeps the passenger schedules from getting FUBAR'ed is to just make the freights default to the (crappier for them) ACSES to get out of the way until the signal dept. can find the gobblins. ACSES, being much heavier on lineside hardware, has the 15-year reputation for reliability on the Shoreline while I-ETMS by nature is going to be more prone to radio dropouts. So given the option, defaulting to ACSES in a major fault is going to be Contingency #1 for keeping traffic moving on the B&A if they can't recover the fault quickly. The B&A's a heavy freight line, but in terms of density of freight traffic it's a drop in the bucket compared to the Water Level Route (where CSX is actively hostile to NYSDOT co-installing ACSES). And there really aren't any eastern co-installs in the with worse conflict potential than this, because freight traffic long ago was reorganized onto largely separate routes from the NEC + branches and the major coastal commuter rail lines.

If it were two wholly wireless PTC systems interfacing with each other...that would be a real potential debugging horrow show. But I'm not sure if or where that's being done anywhere out west. ACSES and I-ETMS aren't the same degree of wireless, so back east ACSES will always have somewhat of an edge as the fail-safer default for keeping stuff moving if one of the PTC flavors develops a glitch or phantom conflict.



It's the Downeaster in MA that's probably going to be a much bigger groaner for potential ACSES v. I-ETMS conflicts. 1) That's the ACSES/I-ETMS coexistence that has to run without cab signals, and undergo more strenuous debugging. If the signal gobblins attack there, they'll be harder to stamp out. 2) Pan Am dispatch controls that part of the freight main overlap in T ownership territory between Andover and Haverhill, unlike CSX being 100% under control of T dispatch between Worcester and Framingham...finger-pointing potential galore! 3) While PAR will run in ACSES territory on the Lowell Line for reaching Boston, they're not going to go nuts equipping too much of their fleet with dual installations like CSX because they don't need to rotate everything they own onto that route. CSX needs to because of the way all Selkirk-Worcester power has to be able to go "on residency" on an Eastern MA local in solo ACSES territory...but CSX also already has all of its power assignments pre-aligned for that setup. PAR has made the portioning of ACSES and I-ETMS units a vector in its war against PTC, because decisions still have to be made on how many units to dual-equip for running to Boston and where they'll be grouped on the system. 4) Pan Am can't be arsed to maintain its engines properly, so if their locos have PTC units on the fritz they're going to have to be hit with a large blunt object...frequently...to fix it when it's their rolling garbage that isn't picking up a perfectly functioning signal. PAR can't even be arsed to maintain 4 working cab signal locos for reaching Berlin-Plainville via the Springfield Line. What happens there?...Amtrak gets pissed at them and starts banning their spazz units from running in the lead, and you end up seeing borrowed P&W locos leading EDPL for a few months while they do nothing quick to try to fix the issues with their own cabbed units. Watch that start happening with their PTC units (of all stripes)...only x15 because Andover-Haverhill and Wachusett-Ayer are on the freight main and no other RR is going to cover them with signal loaners for what they refuse to maintain in-house.

^^Poopshow potential^^. Not necessarily because the technology doesn't work, but rather whose hands you're entrusting it to.
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Re: Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil b

Postby Railjunkie » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:22 am

Time out on the field, as one of the few who have operated and is fully qualified on ACSES rules allow me to explain a few things. One, its an overlay of the of the Cab signal system. Two, if it fails. Not a really big deal stop inform the dispatcher and cut it out. Third and most importantly IT DOSENT RELIEVE AN ENGINEER OF BEING QUALIFIED ON THE PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RAILROAD ITS IN SERVICE ON. Simply stated if it fails you run your train just like you always did by signal indication. It dosent effect cab signals. You can lose your cabs and still have ACSES, however you will be governed by cab signal failure rules.

Will there be issues once I ETMS comes into play most likely. Will it cause such delays that no one will ride? Not likely. All the p32s in Albany are set up for the I ETMS system. Havent seen anything as of yet as to how the system will be governed for failures ect. Again its an overlay most likely cut it out and go. If all else fails Im sure the default will be stop/restricting.
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Re: Amtrak petitions to remove derails from Spuyten Duyvil b

Postby Alcochaser » Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:30 pm

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