Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

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Re: Positive Train Control Compliance

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:49 pm

My suggestion here is a bit radical but I think it is time to scrap the whole system and go to a cab signal and speed control system using the old PRR and New Haven system which is just as safe and maybe even safer, foolproof at least as much as any other system is, already in use in very busy areas and does a fine job at a fraction of the cost and is not depended on a central computer system that can fail all over the place. If common sense had prevailed a few years ago I think that is what we would have ended up with instead of a hodgepodge system that is pretty much depended on satellites and computers that sometimes work and sometimes don't work. This is what happens when politicians get in the way of practical railroaders. Cab signals and speed control have been in use for a long time and it is an excellent system, I know, I have used it.
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Re: Positive Train Control Compliance

Postby Wayside » Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:11 pm

Noel Weaver wrote:My suggestion here is a bit radical but ...


Yeah, no that's not happening. The Class I roads are making good progress toward full implementation. There's been a lot of development work at great cost.
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Re: Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:09 pm

Jishnu wrote:If one bothers to look inside a PTC equipped loco cab one quickly realizes that PTC requirements cannot be met without providing the moral equivalent of cab signal anyway. So we can split hair all we want. In fact if a track and loco is equipped with PTC it would adequately meet the so called cab signal and absolute stop requirement for allowing speeds higher than 79mph.

Only a minority of us will ever have the opportunity to look in a modern locomotive cab (decide for yourself if that’s a good thing :wink: ) so we wouldn’t have an idea of their displays or permissions. In your opinion, does this “moral equivalent” actually meet FRA regs?
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Re: Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

Postby justalurker66 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:54 am

Not the answer I was expecting:
(1) Prior to December 31, 2015, where any train is permitted to operate at a speed of 80 or more miles per hour, an automatic cab signal, automatic train stop, or automatic train control system complying with the provisions of this part shall be installed, unless an FRA approved PTC system meeting the requirements of this part for the subject speed and other operating conditions, is installed.

(2) On and after December 31, 2015, where any train is permitted to operate at a speed of 80 or more miles per hour, a PTC system complying with the provisions of subpart I shall be installed and operational, unless FRA approval to continue to operate with an automatic cab signal, automatic train stop, or automatic train control system complying with the provisions of this part has been justified to, and approved by, the Associate Administrator.

source: 49 CFR 236.0 (d)


Obviously the other requirements of Class 5 track would need to be met and the railroad would need to have the desire to upgrade the track from Class 4 to Class 5 - but it appears that the track must have cab signalling or PTC. If it has PTC cab signalling is not needed. (That does not mean that cab signalling or any other signalling can be removed without specific permission.)
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Re: Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

Postby JimBoylan » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:24 am

That regulation also allows Automatic Train Stop or Automatic Train Control System to be used instead of Automatic Cab Signals.
In the 2nd paragraph, "continue" seems to mean that for any new operation at 80 m.p.h. or faster, Automatic Train Stop, Automatic Train Control System, or Automatic Cab Signals must have already been in use for the Associate Administrator to approve one of them as a substitute for a Postitive Train Control System. Of course, the prior posters to this topic with different views will also have to give permission. And, Federal Regulations can be changed.
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Re: Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

Postby justalurker66 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:07 pm

JimBoylan wrote:That regulation also allows Automatic Train Stop or Automatic Train Control System to be used instead of Automatic Cab Signals.
In the 2nd paragraph, "continue" seems to mean that for any new operation at 80 m.p.h. or faster, Automatic Train Stop, Automatic Train Control System, or Automatic Cab Signals must have already been in use for the Associate Administrator to approve one of them as a substitute for a Postitive Train Control System. Of course, the prior posters to this topic with different views will also have to give permission. And, Federal Regulations can be changed.

The point is that if PTC is active cab signalling does not need to be active ... which goes back to the question of raising speed limits on lines currently limited to "79" due to the lack of cab signalling.
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Re: Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

Postby Tadman » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:55 pm

I was once told by a managerial type at at a railroad with orange geeps that the reason they hadn't installed cab signals was because they were waiting to see if PTC would be a legal alternative. This was around 2010. Looks like that came true.
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Re: Positive Train Control Compliance

Postby SRich » Wed Feb 21, 2018 4:53 pm

Noel Weaver wrote:My suggestion here is a bit radical but I think it is time to scrap the whole system and go to a cab signal and speed control system using the old PRR and New Haven system which is just as safe and maybe even safer, foolproof at least as much as any other system is, already in use in very busy areas and does a fine job at a fraction of the cost and is not depended on a central computer system that can fail all over the place. If common sense had prevailed a few years ago I think that is what we would have ended up with instead of a hodgepodge system that is pretty much depended on satellites and computers that sometimes work and sometimes don't work. This is what happens when politicians get in the way of practical railroaders. Cab signals and speed control have been in use for a long time and it is an excellent system, I know, I have used it.
Noel Weaver


MR Weaver, i agree with you. But the big problem of Cab Signals is the lack of sufficient signals, the old 100 Hz cabsignals has only four signals and with the 250 Hz you have only 7. So track enforcement can, but it's possible that an Amtrak train get clearance for 90 MPH an the cabsignals showing 100 MPH or 125 MPH. The same problem also alplies to the Netherlands where on some lines the speed is 100 km/h and the cabsignals authorize 130 km/h. Tis is the major reason why ProRail and NS going from ATB-EG to ERTMS, and i think that is major issue for US railways. Thats why PTC is implemented, if they have a cabsignal system with enough speedenforcement(from zero to max authorized speed with steps of 10 MPH) then is ACSES and another PTC systems are not necessary.
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Re: Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

Postby justalurker66 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:45 am

PTC will help the train know the actual MAS for the track and consist. As you noted, one of the flaws of ATC (and trackside signals) is their lack of ability to give a distinct speed indication. When "Clear" could mean "you may travel 125 MPH" or "you may travel 45 MPH" depending on the MAS of the track how do you tell ATC the difference? One can use a kludge such as transmitting "Limited Clear" or "Medium Clear" to enforce a lower speed but MAS may not match one of those speeds. An alert engineer knows where the train is and the MAS ... and so does PTC. It also allows MAS to be changed "on the fly" for work zones - which theoretically could be done with ATC but it would be more difficult and would still need the temporary speed to match a speed in the table. If the railroad has a new piece of track where they are limiting the first few trains to 10 MPH then the next 24 hours of trains to 20 MPH before raising the MAS to a higher speed that can be done through a temporary track restriction that PTC will see and enforce. Not so easy to do with ATC.

After a track rebuild project last year I watched the process of reopening the railroad with this progressive level of restrictions. The maintenance crews had to rely on the engineers (and conductors) to obey the restrictions without any automatic enforcement. Eventually as train speeds increased a radar gun was used so the crew knew exactly what speed each train was traveling. PTC could have taken care of that enforcement.
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Re: Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

Postby Railjunkie » Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:02 am

What the * ever happened to the professional engineer. The ability to read your bulletins, manifests, orders. The professionalism wanting to run a smooth on time train. The reason I spent almost 2 years behind the the throttle with different instructors was to learn the RR, period. The idea is to LEARN, STUDY THE RULE BOOK, PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS BEING SHARED ABOUT THE TERRITORY, BECOME SO FAMILIAR WITH THE TERRITORY YOU CAN ALMOST SEE AND FEEL IT IN YOUR SLEEP. Hell Ive been doing the same runs for 15 years and still find something new almost every trip.

A few thing that were shared with me during my OJT. Share these today with new people dont care weather your an conductor or engineer.

1. If something dosent feel right it most likely isnt. Stop the move or if your stopped dont move.
2. Approach means but the damn breaks on I dont care how long that next block is.
3. Not sure about the last signal, put the damn breaks on.
3a. Better to creep up to a clear than blow by a red.
4. Center and pull the reverser at a stop signal, that way you cant brain fart your way into trouble.
5. If you dont feel it in your ass youll never be a good engineer. This one is basically can you tell what your train is doing by feel.
6. There isnt an engineer out there that hasnt * up. If they tell you different they are full of *.

All this system does is dumb down the craft, soon enough just throw a bunch of bananas on the head end and let the trained monkey go to work. Use the inward facing cameras to see how many bananas they eat.

Ill ask again what happens when a train or trains go side ways because the system failed or had to be cut out. How do you think someone who has become like Pavlov's dog is going to handle running without their dinner bell. Currently 21 miles in service I can pretty much tell you where its going to chirp at me for speed changes, brake points. Want to help me, make it passive so when I do * up it starts chirping or if it feels the need, puts the breaks on. I dont need the thing singing at me when Im under the speed limit. Its getting to the point where we will be looking more and more at the computer screen and less and less out the window.

Lastly Im not a perfect engineer. I have * up, been in front of my road foreman and begged for forgiveness.
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Re: Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

Postby justalurker66 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:46 pm

Railjunkie wrote:What the * ever happened to the professional engineer.

That is a good question. Perhaps if they were not so hard to find there would have been less of a push for PTC. But professional railroaders (not just engineers) keep making mistakes. Engineers, conductors, dispatchers, foremen and maintainers each making mistakes that lead to high profile incidents.

What is the solution? Have the actuaries at the railroad decide that the cost of incidents is less than the cost of improving training or improving signalling? Have people working at the railroad who see the cost of incidents coming out of some other budget and not want to spend their own budget preventing them? Have a safety culture that is so draconian that it becomes ignored or one that is so lax that it is irrelevant? Refuse to implement any change that would lead to better rested and better qualified railroad professionals?

Railjunkie wrote:I have * up, been in front of my road foreman and begged for forgiveness.

I am glad that what you have done was forgivable. It is harder to forgive the deceased or those who through their errors have caused deaths.
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Re: Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

Postby electricron » Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:05 pm

Don’t confuse professional with being proficient.
The only difference between a professional and an amateur is that one gets paid doing it.

We shouldn’t be surprised to see proficiency dropping when schools pass just about everybody who shows up.
The dumbing down of America started when bell curves were invented. It’s been getting worse year after year.
The military recognized this decades ago. Colleges and Universities have remedial catch up preparation courses for a reason.
I don’t have a magic solution, but a great place to start is to increase our standards of proficiency, from the bottom up.
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Re: Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Apr 27, 2018 2:03 pm

So there was news made when Anderson suggested stopping Vermonter service. Um, this one is a bit more major: WPDH.com

AMTRAK MAY SUSPEND SERVICE FROM POUGHKEEPSIE OVER SAFETY CONCERNS
...
In a shocking statement, Amtrak says that they could suspend service between Poughkeepsie and New York City if important safety deadlines aren't met. And it doesn't look like those safety upgrades are anywhere near on schedule.
...
If Metro North is not in compliance by the end of the year Amtrak has announced that they will no longer use the tracks between Poughkeepsie and New York City; basically ending their service in the Hudson Valley. This would be a major blow to commuters, especially those who live north of Poughkeepsie, who's only way to get to Manhattan is by traveling on Amtrak.
...
Next stop, Willoughby
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Re: Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

Postby ryanov » Sat Apr 28, 2018 1:28 am

Lots of punishment has been handed out to a large number of passengers of various railroads in the name of PTC installation. I’m pretty sure that recently Conrail was doing some that affected NJT’s Raritan Valley Like. Passengers were warned trips might take up to 90 mins longer. I think just about every trip on these weekends is shorter than 90 minutes total. If that’s not what those service changes are for, surely PATH has made it clear that most are. I don’t know why transit riders are expected to suck this up. Now is let seems like some service may be lost altogether, as it was a largely unfunded mandate and they may not finish. The US has the money. Make these railroads whole, get them doing the work and move on. I’d prefer “unsafe” trains to no trains, but c’mon, is that the country we are?
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Re: Amtrak: PTC Mandate, Progress System Wide

Postby Backshophoss » Sat Apr 28, 2018 2:19 am

Funny,MN should have the Hudson "Demo" project(ACSES II)should be up and on line soon enough in a PR press release ,
stated they will be ready by 12/31/18
The New Haven "Demo" project(ACSES II) from New Haven - Bridgeport should also be online soon enough.
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