MNRR PTC Status and Plans (ACSES)

Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, Jeff Smith, FL9AC

BuddSilverliner269
Posts: 3662
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 2:40 am
Location: Trenton Line MP 30.70

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by BuddSilverliner269 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:43 pm

I work under acses territory everyday. I don't really have a problem with it. If you cut your cabs out, your acses will indeed stay active,and if you cut your acses out, your cab signals still stay active. ACSES is a good system for enforcing speed limits or temporary speed restrictions. The system is to complex to implement it on the NEC without seriously slowing down service. For instance,many stations are located next to interlocking signals such as Trenton and many times you will have a stop signal displayed at the end of the platform to allow something in front to cross.most engineers will stop close to the signal but under acses if your approaching a stop signal, you will have to be stopped generally about a 1000 feet before the signal. The system isn't fool proof. A few years ago an acela blew a stop signal at Hamilton going west . It was snowing and when the cabs dropped he put the brakes in full service and even got the acses stop penalty and still went thru the stop signal. I'm not afraid of change in the industry but not when it comes in the form of rough train handling or degradation of service. Unfortunately I have a feeling acses is probably the lesser of all ptc evils.

User avatar
Tommy Meehan
Posts: 3345
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 7:00 am
Location: Yonkers

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Tommy Meehan » Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:11 pm

BuddSilverliner269 wrote:For instance,many stations are located next to interlocking signals such as Trenton and many times you will have a stop signal displayed at the end of the platform to allow something in front to cross.most engineers will stop close to the signal but under acses if your approaching a stop signal, you will have to be stopped generally about a 1000 feet before the signal.
I think I know what you're saying. At Trenton a train would get on the platform and do its work while a train ahead crosses over. With ACSES it would have to stop before it was on the platform?

I see this on Metro-North's Hudson Line. A southbound local will approach the Tarrytown station at very low reduced speed to comply with the ATC system if the interlocking ahead (CP25) is set against it. I see this most often when an opposing train is crossing over to clear.

Pre-ATC the local would come in to Tarrytown either at normal or close to normal speed since the interlocking and its signals are well past the platform.

bartholmew
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Feb 26, 2005 2:49 pm
Location: new england

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by bartholmew » Wed Mar 10, 2010 9:33 pm

im not too sure metro-norths higher up's care about train handling esp with these rebuilt cab cars they're rolling out with no temp suppression and 3/10 of a second to put the brake into basically handle off or you get a penalty.....i agree ptc in not necessary like was stated .....if in california they had any type of atc system that accident either wouldnt have happend or would have been significantly less catastrophic but like stated he would have been on a restricted signal the joke is we're arguing about an expensive safety system when we still have territory with no code running through the rail where at 59mph were just hoping that that switch around the curve isnt open becuase some kid thought it would be funny

Jersey_Mike
Posts: 4689
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:39 am
Location: CHARLES aka B&P JCT MP 95.9

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Jersey_Mike » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:59 am

The system is to complex to implement it on the NEC without seriously slowing down service. For instance,many stations are located next to interlocking signals such as Trenton and many times you will have a stop signal displayed at the end of the platform to allow something in front to cross.most engineers will stop close to the signal but under acses if your approaching a stop signal, you will have to be stopped generally about a 1000 feet before the signal.
That is exactly the sort of crap I am talking about. Call me silly for assuming that ACSES actually worked reasonably well, but surprise surprise it can't even enforce a positive stop with a proper granularity. The code drop point is 1500 feet before the Stop signal and ACSES apparently can't do better than stopping it with 1000 feet to spare. If this is sort of performance is standard the use of the stop release to close in on the signal will become a standard procedure and we're right back where we were before ACSES (manual control up to 20mph approaching stop signals) only slower. I knew there had to be a reason Amtrak hadn't installed it anywhere complicated yet.
The system isn't fool proof. A few years ago an acela blew a stop signal at Hamilton going west . It was snowing and when the cabs dropped he put the brakes in full service and even got the acses stop penalty and still went thru the stop signal. I'm not afraid of change in the industry but not when it comes in the form of rough train handling or degradation of service.
The real danger there is that if there is some sort of accident in that situation ACSES will have to be adjusted to ratchet down speeds to account for the worst case track conditions. So even on a nice sunny day trains will be crawling along like the rails are covered in ice. Fortunately it looks like costs will be the death of this thing. When every commuter railroad in the country comes hat in hand to congress asking for hundreds of millions in PTC dollars I think they'll quickly see the light of day.

Nasadowsk
Posts: 4009
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:45 pm

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Nasadowsk » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:27 pm

Jersey_Mike wrote: That is exactly the sort of crap I am talking about. Call me silly for assuming that ACSES actually worked reasonably well, but surprise surprise it can't even enforce a positive stop with a proper granularity. The code drop point is 1500 feet before the Stop signal and ACSES apparently can't do better than stopping it with 1000 feet to spare.
What's so hard about dropping a inductive beacon or whatever saying "X hundred feet to stop point" and then one that say "hey, I'm the stop point, stop here!". Or better, what's so hard about having a 'measured distance' to let the onboard equipment calibrate every now and then (like, at yards, major terminals, etc), then say 'x feet to stop' before the stop point, and let the locomotive figure out how close it is, and lop off a safety factor of a dozen feet? The darn technology ought to be dirt cheap by now - RF powered beacons are a pretty old tech, and you can cram just about all you'd ever want to know into 128 bytes or so...

neroden
Posts: 1175
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2006 12:37 am
Location: Ithaca, NY

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by neroden » Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:54 pm

Jersey_Mike wrote:
They don't have much of a choice. It's an FRA mandate.
They can ignore the FRA and pay the fine which will probably be less than the cost of installing it.
Uh-uh, fines like that repeat yearly.

Silverliner II
Posts: 4376
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 10:04 am
Location: Somewhere near a Philly railroad line...

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Silverliner II » Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:36 pm

I would call ACSES the lesser of two evils over all this GPS-based PTC they are considering. Already acknowledged is the problem of maintaining contact in tunnels and overpasses. Heck, even CSX cab signal territories are GPS-based and on occasion, we will be running in non-cab territory and it will switch itself to NEC mode when we cross over Amtrak on a bridge or something and get a penalty application if we can't get our speed down in time to change the territory back.

A good old hard-wired CSS/ATC system should be good enough. Even an ACSES overlay can work too, with tweaking for certain sections of railroad where operations are more complex (and the FRA does consider ACSES and the Michigan Line ITCS forms of PTC).

I would hope they don't get too space-agey with all this or it will become even more of a boondoggle than the Metrolink accident that started all of this. Call me cynical, but had the Metrolink accident been a result of the engineer becoming incapacitated instead of using a cell phone inappropriately, I don't think we would be having this discussion today.
"*BEEEEEP!!!* Three-Three! Three! No Alarms!"
(announcement from CN hotbox/dragging equipment detector, Milepost 33, track #3, Oakville Subdivision)

LIRR272
Posts: 494
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 11:41 pm
Location: Elmont NY

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by LIRR272 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:48 pm

Nasadowsk wrote:
Jersey_Mike wrote: That is exactly the sort of crap I am talking about. Call me silly for assuming that ACSES actually worked reasonably well, but surprise surprise it can't even enforce a positive stop with a proper granularity. The code drop point is 1500 feet before the Stop signal and ACSES apparently can't do better than stopping it with 1000 feet to spare.
What's so hard about dropping a inductive beacon or whatever saying "X hundred feet to stop point" and then one that say "hey, I'm the stop point, stop here!". Or better, what's so hard about having a 'measured distance' to let the onboard equipment calibrate every now and then (like, at yards, major terminals, etc), then say 'x feet to stop' before the stop point, and let the locomotive figure out how close it is, and lop off a safety factor of a dozen feet? The darn technology ought to be dirt cheap by now - RF powered beacons are a pretty old tech, and you can cram just about all you'd ever want to know into 128 bytes or so...
I believe the information can be programmed into the transponders. For example the C&S department puts down temporary transponders when ever there is work or speed restriction is needed. Therefore, Mike's concern can simply changed by the information stored in the transponder.

neroden
Posts: 1175
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2006 12:37 am
Location: Ithaca, NY

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by neroden » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:46 pm

Silverliner II wrote:I would hope they don't get too space-agey with all this
Yeah, me too. :-( GPS is fine for isolated one-track branch lines in the middle of nowhere, but seriously, the people designing these things need to know the limits of the technology they're using.

The fully automated Docklands Light Railway runs largely on track circuits, despite having lots of fancy software. http://www.xs4all.nl/~dodger/tech.htm The loops are less than 3.2km long, and are subdivided so that the trains can detect their location within 25 m. Axle counters are used as a backup to detect trains without working computers within less than 3.2km.

As far as I can tell, the so-called "moving block" system is conceptually composed, for train detection and movement authorization purposes, of fixed blocks of known and extremely short length (25 m.) In other words, there's nothing conceptually new about it. The central computer communicates with the train in a manner which would be familiar to any dispatcher (each train has an ID, supplies location and speed information, gets movement authorizations back); the communications are all through the rails.

The efficiency comes almost entirely out of using very short blocks (shorter than a train even), and figuring out how to implement that without an infinite amount of wayside equipment. Though putting the safety logic in software is probably also essential to making it affordable to have such short blocks.

Nasadowsk
Posts: 4009
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:45 pm

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Nasadowsk » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:31 pm

neroden wrote: As far as I can tell, the so-called "moving block" system is conceptually composed, for train detection and movement authorization purposes, of fixed blocks of known and extremely short length (25 m.) In other words, there's nothing conceptually new about it. The central computer communicates with the train in a manner which would be familiar to any dispatcher (each train has an ID, supplies location and speed information, gets movement authorizations back); the communications are all through the rails.
I think LZB works that way, too, and gets the divisions via the criss-cross cable down the center of the track. Though IIRC, LZB overlays PZB and the standard signaling.

roee
Posts: 197
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:32 pm

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by roee » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:12 pm

I'm sure it'd be more than fines. More like not authorized to operate trains as of Jan 1, 2016. And the arrest of people who try and operate/make crews operate trains on Jan 2, 2016.

The FRA doesn't make suggestions, they make Laws. Every FRA rule is a LAW, and laws have penalties. From fines to the RR to personal liability to arrest and imprisonment. I've never heard of the FRA imprisoning someone, but they have the power.

None of this with Metro-North will come anywhere near any of that and the MTA wouldn't let it get close, so the idea of just not complying isn't going to happen. They'll apply for waivers and the such, but if they all fail, they will install PTC.
neroden wrote:
Jersey_Mike wrote:
They don't have much of a choice. It's an FRA mandate.
They can ignore the FRA and pay the fine which will probably be less than the cost of installing it.
Uh-uh, fines like that repeat yearly.
Eric
KE5BAX

Obligatory Simpson’s reference:
I'm Double Bacon Genius Burger

Jersey_Mike
Posts: 4689
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:39 am
Location: CHARLES aka B&P JCT MP 95.9

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Jersey_Mike » Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:36 am

I'm sure it'd be more than fines. More like not authorized to operate trains as of Jan 1, 2016. And the arrest of people who try and operate/make crews operate trains on Jan 2, 2016.
Then Metro-North should stop operating. Call their bluff. As a public sector monopoly it's not like there are other operators chomping at the bit to take over their service. Freight railroads can arguably treat it as a cost of business and have actually profits to pay for it from. Passenger roads are operated with public funds and often run on publicly owned track. If the Feds aren't going to pony up the cash the commuter roads should just say that if they enforce the regulation they will just shut down. I highly doubt that the FRA wants to end commuter rail service in the country so they will use their discretion to kick the crisis down the road. This sort of outcome happens all the time. Some huge number of municipal water supplies are not meeting clean water standards. Fining the city doesn't make the problem better because if the city had the money in the first place it would fix the water quality issues and one can't just shut off the water supply either.

Anyway, I think the other shoe will drop after we find out that the technology just doesn't work very well. After that we'll either see a bunch of blanket waivers that continually push the deadline back or the law get watered down directly via some amendment inserted into some transportation funding bill.

DutchRailnut
Posts: 22270
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:02 pm
Location: released from Stalag 13

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by DutchRailnut » Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:59 am

MTA as a public agency has to comply with the law, any grand standing like mike wants, would only backfire.
How????? Loss of funding, loss of credibility, loss of face.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

Retired Triebfahrzeugführer. I am not a moderator.

Patrick A.
Posts: 621
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2006 8:52 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Patrick A. » Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:11 am

I know for sure that Dutch is an engineer, but I'm wondering what engineers and signal dept folks on MNR and other RR's feel about PTC versus their current operations. As someone trying to better understand the debate here, what does a PTC system do that MNR's ATC system does not? If the only thing is enforcing a stop to prevent a run-through, MNR's system is fairly adequate based on my understanding. The enforced speed downgrades from the cab signal if not acknowledged and followed by the engineer result in a penalty and the train stops. By the time a double red was approached, the train would be operating at restricted (15mph) and if there was an accident, it is only the blame of the engineer first and foremost thence RTC. In conclusion, if the PTC system the FRA mandates for MNRR brings significant safety then I ask why wouldn't it be implemented? If however, PTC is only marginally beneficial to near neutral then it would not be worth the cost.
I have lived to ride on the M8.

Complete Constant Tension on the New Haven Line ETC: Mid-2018

DutchRailnut
Posts: 22270
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:02 pm
Location: released from Stalag 13

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by DutchRailnut » Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:21 am

With a possible collision at 30 mph, it's not a question on who is to blame.
The question is did or does MTA do the maximum on prevention, or in other words did they skimp on safety.
Yes one train can pass a stop at upto 15 mph, but what speed is the train other side of that signal doing ???
Blaming engineer is cute for NTSB, but a court of law will still blame MTA if they did not do the max on prevention.
And at what settlment cost and how many dead bodies???
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

Retired Triebfahrzeugführer. I am not a moderator.

Return to “MTA Metro-North Railroad and CtDOT Passenger Rail”