Today SmartRail World looks at PTC-220 LLC, an alliance between the seven Class 1 railroads with the aim of securing spectrum to support interoperable Positive Train Control (PTC). Wireless connectivity has long been considered one of the “Achilles Heels” of PTC and PTC 220 is an effort to solve this problem. Formed by NS and UP in late 2007 it now composed of seven equal members comprised of the Class 1 railroads (CSX, BNSF, UP, NS, KCS, CN, CP) and operates through multiple committees made up of volunteers from the Members. The original purchase of 280 kHz of nationwide 220 MHz spectrum was made in 2008.
All members and non-members will have leases to allow use of PTC-220 spectrum. And PTC-220 provides spectrum whilst the lease holders provide the infrastructure.
As part of the PTC-220 LLC spectrum use, it’s ensured that the primary use is for PTC traffic using ITCnet channel access protocol and the secondary use for Non-PTC traffic. PTC-220 LLC’s lease fees are cost recovery based and assessed to non-Members reflecting a reasonable allocation of investment and other operating costs. And although members represent the majority of PTC deployment the fees may be off-set or eliminated by contributions of spectrum by a lessee.
To find out some more about PTC-220 LLC, we spoke to Henry McCreary, Director PTC Communications at CSX and President PTC-220. We started by asking Henry what some of the objectives of PTC-220 in 2014 were; “PTC-220’s objectives for 2014 are focused on the 220 radio network deployment for Positive Train Control. We’re continuing to refine our RF prediction tools and planning systems to support the significant deployments of the 220 radio network for PTC. Additionally, PTC-220 is becoming more proactive in its efforts to support the spectrum needs of non-member railroads in the geographic areas where we have excess spectrum capacity.”
Whilst speaking to Henry I also asked if railroads were taking advantage of opportunities to leverage PTC beyond just safety; “Any additional opportunities for business benefit from the investment is not the focus at this time. But the near term focus of PTC efforts is to meet the regulatory mandate.” And broadening the view from just PTC, asked Henry what excited him most about the future of North American rail; “What excites me most are the opportunities to offer efficient and environmentally friendly rail transportation – something that the American economy needs more of!”