WMATA Automatic Train Control

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WMATA Automatic Train Control

Postby davinp » Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:38 am

Metro has hired the engineering consulting firm Mott MacDonald — at a cost of just over $1 million — to study the potential safety impact of restoring Automatic Train Operation (ATO), which for riders would mean smoother rides, precise train positioning at platforms and fewer time-wasting stops and starts.

This study is due this summer

Metro was designed for ­computer-driven trains, and that’s what was used until the 2009 Red Line crash near Fort Totten

Automatic Train Operation was suspended indefinitely following the crash.

The ATO system itself was not at fault in the crash, however, as federal investigators determined the probable cause was a faulty track circuit module. Metro’s signal system uses a network of electrical circuits that communicate the location of trains on the tracks. Faulty circuits can cause a train to “disappear.”

Metro spent $106 million to replace 1,700 track circuits in the system as part of a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation, with an eye toward eventually returning to automatic operation. ATO was restored to the Red Line briefly in spring 2015, with plans for it to be restored systemwide by 2017.

But the Red Line restoration was short-lived, and the systemwide transition never happened. When Paul J. Wiedefeld came on as general manager in 2015, he said ATO was not a priority because the agency was focused on initiatives critical to safety and maintenance.

Metro said the tens of millions of dollars in upgrades it spent were critical for the safety of the system — even if automatic operation is never restored.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/tr ... 366bcbce6c
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Re: Metro studying returning to Automatic Train Control

Postby Sand Box John » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:46 pm

Automatic train control is mostly a train board function. Wayside only provides the speed commands to maintain safe operation regardless operating mode.

The $64,000 question is, has WMATA maintained the train board hardware that performs that function to designed specification? Have they maintained the marker coils that are used to execute automatic station stops? Have they corrected the doors opening on the wrong side issue?

Edit 06 11 2018 10:14 am:

See this subreddit for the answers to those questions.
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Metro to return to ATO.

Postby JackRussell » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:29 pm

https://twitter.com/AdamTuss/status/1051944920792145922

EXCLUSIVE: Metro trains returning to computer controlled automatic mode. GM says it’s time to be “better than good.” Full story shortly

Edit: Full story here: https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/loca ... 20131.html

In an exclusive interview with News4, Wiedefeld promised that Metro’s entire fleet of trains will return to a computer-controlled automatic mode during rush hours for the first time since the deadly 2009 Red Line crash that killed nine people near the Fort Totten station.

"We are very comfortable. Obviously we wouldn’t do it unless we were comfortable. We will be rolling with it pretty soon," Wiedefeld said Monday.
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Re: Metro to return to ATO.

Postby Sand Box John » Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:52 pm

All I can say is, It Is About F---ing Time !!

Next question, when will the switch be thrown?
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Re: Metro to return to ATO.

Postby JDC » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:17 pm

Story also mentioned that doors will automatically open as part of this return to automatic operation, and that riders will be be able to use Metro upcoming app to pay at existing faregates. https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Metro-Trains-to-Run-in-Automatic-Mode-for-First-Time-Since-Deadly-Crash-497620131.html
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Re: Metro to return to ATO.

Postby mackievlzpro » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:16 pm

Anybody know if 6 car trains will still berth at the end of the platform?
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Re: Metro to return to ATO.

Postby JDC » Mon Oct 22, 2018 1:01 pm

Another GGW piece has more details, including that a) 6-car trains will berth at the front of a station not in the middle (the piece makes the point that most trains will be 8-cars anyways, so....); b) automatic door operation is supposed to start this November; and c) ATO will be rush-hour only, starting in July 2019. https://ggwash.org/view/69545/metro-reasons-good-news-for-riders-computer-driven-trains-are-coming-back
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Re: Metro to return to ATO.

Postby The EGE » Mon Oct 22, 2018 2:44 pm

BART has zero problem operating in ATO at all times - it's fairly easy to put on temporary software (or hard-coded electronic switch) speed restrictions to protect track workers. Does WMATA not have that ability?
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Re: Metro to return to ATO.

Postby Sand Box John » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:12 am

"The EGE"
BART has zero problem operating in ATO at all times - it's fairly easy to put on temporary software (or hard-coded electronic switch) speed restrictions to protect track workers. Does WMATA not have that ability?


Did you read the Greater Greater Washington article? Yes Rail Operations can change the speed commands on the fly. The issue is the rules were changed to a speed, 10 MPH, that can not be set to on the fly. The lowest speed command that can be set is 15 MPH.
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Re: Metro to return to ATO.

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:32 am

Found it interesting that WMATA has the freedom to increase their personnel-on-ROW speed from 10 to 15 mph (restricted?) without FTA oversight. Not that it’s an unsafe speed, but that’s the kind of thing that would have been a months-long process had it been a heavy railroad. I always forget how few regulatory teeth FTA has, compared to FRA.
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Re: Metro to return to ATO.

Postby srepetsk » Thu Oct 25, 2018 9:38 pm

mtuandrew wrote:Found it interesting that WMATA has the freedom to increase their personnel-on-ROW speed from 10 to 15 mph (restricted?) without FTA oversight. Not that it’s an unsafe speed, but that’s the kind of thing that would have been a months-long process had it been a heavy railroad. I always forget how few regulatory teeth FTA has, compared to FRA.

It used to be 35mph up until Lavin came down from MTA back in 2016.
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Re: Metro to return to ATO.

Postby dcmike » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:06 pm

mtuandrew wrote:Found it interesting that WMATA has the freedom to increase their personnel-on-ROW speed from 10 to 15 mph (restricted?) without FTA oversight. Not that it’s an unsafe speed, but that’s the kind of thing that would have been a months-long process had it been a heavy railroad. I always forget how few regulatory teeth FTA has, compared to FRA.


I've discussed this ad nauseam with several different FTA officials over the years, and every time I hear the same argument: this is very much by design. The most substantial reason they always cite is that every US transit system is unique. The differences between properties are so great that it would not be feasible to effectively regulate all of them. Consider how many different track gauges, signaling systems, vehicle types, etc there are out there. They make a strong argument that it's practically impossible to write regulations that would be applicable across the board.

The other argument that often comes up is that the federal government has no jurisdiction over anything that doesn't cross state lines. WMATA is the only* US transit system that might technically be an exception to this, but even that isn't entirely clear because WMATA itself isn't part of any jurisdiction - it is its own sovereign entity.

*I realize that PATH is is mostly a transit system versus a railroad, but at one point in time it did have shared trackage so it makes sense that it falls under FRA oversight.
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Re: Metro to return to ATO.

Postby MattW » Sat Oct 27, 2018 10:04 am

St. Louis Metrolink crosses into Illinois, and PATCO crosses between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But those are still exceptions.
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Re: Metro to return to ATO.

Postby Sand Box John » Sun Oct 28, 2018 8:10 am

"MattW"
St. Louis Metrolink crosses into Illinois, and PATCO crosses between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But those are still exceptions.


Both are interstate compacts similar to WMATA.
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Re: Metro to return to ATO.

Postby daybeers » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:48 pm

YES! FINALLY! I don't quite understand why they're only going to be operating it during rush hours though. And why aren't they having six-car trains stop at the center of platforms?
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