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Positive Train Control (PTC) in focus: North County Transit District (NCTD) in California.

Posted by SmartRail World Staff on Mar 3, 2014

NCTDcoaster_006_640x480Today SmartRail World journeys to California to find out how the North County Transit District (NCTD) is working with Positive Train Control (PTC) and integrating the system without interrupting service. The NCTD is the agency responsible for publication transportation in North San Diego County and transports over 1.6 million passengers per year, Multiple railroads operate and enter NCTD Territory: BNSF, Amtrak, Pacific Sun, and Metro link and NCTD dispatches all trains within its territory.

NCTD’s implementation of PTC is well underway as they have already begun installing the fiber optic cables from the Orange County line to Old Town in San Diego. The next phases of implementation will include installing communications infrastructure along the right of way, installing the on-board system, and conducting extensive testing.

NCTD is constructing a PTC test and training facility. The test and training facility is equipped with all PTC elements and will perform end-to-end testing before and after NCTD’s PTC system is commissioned. NCTD will also use this facility to familiarize train operators and maintenance staff with the requirements of PTC and to test hardware and software modifications.

View the Interactive Simulator (Opens in New Window. Large file, please allow several minutes to open)

NCTD will use a hy-rail suburban vehicle to test the PTC system. This vehicle is outfitted to run on the railroad tracks and is equipped with interior infrastructure to mimic a train, gather track data, and communicate with all PTC segments. The test vehicle will be used before and after PTC is commissioned to test the PTC system on the rail corridor.

We spoke to Robert Paladino, Rail Systems Engineer at NCTD, about what challenges they overcame in installing the new system; "The two main challenges we have faced with on-board is placement of the TMC within the locomotive and the cab car. We needed it to be in a place that didn’t restrict the engineers view and allowed them to be able to use the screen. The next obstacle was meeting the 49 CFR 238.103 which is Passenger Equipment Safety Standards. No one thought about this and the wiring in our locomotives for PTC didn’t meet the fire standards. All the wiring had to be pulled and new wires had to be placed inside the locomotive."

And then asked what advice Robert would give to other railways what advice would you give to a railway just beginning the testing process? “NCTD is currently just beginning the testing process in the test and training facility. I think the key is to make sure your crew has a proper understanding of how the equipment works and how to properly conduct each test.”

After testing is fully complete the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will examine and certify the PTC system and operation before it is commissioned. NCTD is on target to implement PTC before the deadline of December 31, 2015.

Robert Paladino will an expert speaker at the Positive Train Control (PTC) World Congress taking place in Orlando, Florida on 15-17th April 2014 where over 50 speakers and 300 attendees gather to discuss and share the latest developments in PTC ahead of its rapidly approaching deadline. For more on NCTD and their work with PTC visit here.

Topics: PTC, Positive Train Control, Interviews, PTC World Congress, Signalling, North County Transit District, NTCD, Robert Palladino

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