PTC for (us) Dummies

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PTC for (us) Dummies
Posted by Murphy Siding on Thursday, April 05, 2018 5:34 PM

     Somewhere in this month's Trains Magazine there's mention of the number of railroads that will eventually have PTC. It was the Class 1's, about 18 commuter operations, and about a dozen other railroads. What would the other railroads be? switching or connecting roads? 

      PTC itself- we hear a lot about it, but I don't quite understand it. It somehow is supposed to keep passenger trains from bonking into other trains and such. For the engineer, what's different as far as operating a train with verses without PTO?

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Posted by edblysard on Thursday, April 05, 2018 6:21 PM
Guess whose engineers and conductors have to be PTC compliant by the end of this year even though we never in our 94 years have had a passenger service, never, ever?
Yup, because we use run through power on the grain trains and coal/coke trains, our tracks have access to Class 1 main line,  our employees have to be familiar with it…

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Posted by zardoz on Thursday, April 05, 2018 6:28 PM

Never mind.

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, April 05, 2018 7:05 PM

It's the other part of 'da rule that bit-cha: 49CFR236.1005 SubPart 1 (5)-b(i)

PTC required:

(i) Main line over which is transported any quantity of material poisonous by inhalation (PIH), including anhydrous ammonia, as defined in §§171.8, 173.115 and 173.132 of this title;

Congress required Class I railroad main lines handling poisonous-inhalation-hazard materials and any railroad main lines with regularly scheduled intercity and commuter rail passenger service to fully implement Positive Train Control (PTC) by December 31, 2015 (now 12-31-2018 and maybe falling down - All those commuter agencies with tightwad beancounters hoping that Uncle Sugar would look the other way - NOPE!)

...and guess what Sno-Man's railroad handles plenty of....like more than 100 per year, so no exemption for you!

 

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Posted by Convicted One on Thursday, April 05, 2018 7:06 PM

Murphy Siding
For the engineer, what's different as far as operating a train with verses without PTO?

 

I really hope that some one with first hand knowledge responds to that portion of your post. 

Based upon what little I've read, it appears to be a "supervisory" autopilot of sorts that cuts in when proceedures are not strictly followed.

But I would be nice to get a more detailed explanation from some one wioth hands-on familiarity.  to with "if you do AAA...then BBB is going to happen, but if you fail to do AAA, then CCC is going to happen" that sort of thing.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, April 05, 2018 9:19 PM

edblysard
Guess whose engineers and conductors have to be PTC compliant by the end of this year even though we never in our 94 years have had a passenger service, never, ever?
Yup, because we use run through power on the grain trains and coal/coke trains, our tracks have access to Class 1 main line,  our employees have to be familiar with it…

I am guessing there is more than a little HAZMAT that gets handled by your road, PIH or Annhydrous Ammonia in addition to all the other chemicals that kill a person in one heartbeat and one breath.  

Locos that are set up for PTC by their road crews will end up on your territory still set up - even though they are not supposed to.  Your crews will need to know how to secure the engines from PTC operation.  This also applies crews on crews on PTC railroads who have territory where PTC is not in effect.

I have several of the CSX brochures for how PTC is 'SUPPOSED' to operate - about 60 or more pages of material.  Being a Dispatcher we never got the training that T&E crews recieved.

         

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Thursday, April 05, 2018 9:29 PM

edblysard
Guess whose engineers and conductors have to be PTC compliant by the end of this year even though we never in our 94 years have had a passenger service, never, ever?
Yup, because we use run through power on the grain trains and coal/coke trains, our tracks have access to Class 1 main line,  our employees have to be familiar with it…
 

That will come in handy when Amtrak starts running destination rail tours into Houston area refineries and rail yards. 

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Thursday, April 05, 2018 9:37 PM

mudchicken

It's the other part of 'da rule that bit-cha: 49CFR236.1005 SubPart 1 (5)-b(i)

PTC required:

(i) Main line over which is transported any quantity of material poisonous by inhalation (PIH), including anhydrous ammonia, as defined in §§171.8, 173.115 and 173.132 of this title;

Congress required Class I railroad main lines handling poisonous-inhalation-hazard materials and any railroad main lines with regularly scheduled intercity and commuter rail passenger service to fully implement Positive Train Control (PTC) by December 31, 2015 (now 12-31-2018 and maybe falling down - All those commuter agencies with tightwad beancounters hoping that Uncle Sugar would look the other way - NOPE!)

...and guess what Sno-Man's railroad handles plenty of....like more than 100 per year, so no exemption for you!

 

 

I didn't even know about the PIH part of that. Is there a clear cut definition of main line on a railroad? The Dakota and Iowa runs trains about 100 miles; 80 of it on BNSF tracks, the other 20 on their own tracks between Sioux Falls, SD and Dell Rapids, SD. Is that considered a main line? The BNSF has a 50 mile grain gathering line from Sioux Falls to Madison, SD that runs once or twice a month. Is that considered a main line?

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, April 05, 2018 9:47 PM

 Scroll down for a video of what PTC is on this page.  

http://www.bnsf.com/in-the-community/safety-and-security/positive-train-control.html 

We have been running PTC since late last summer, when the lead engine is equipped.  Everyone seems to like it.  It lets you see six miles ahead.  There are a few things that could be better, but has PTC evolves those changes may happen.

Jeff

PS.  I once ran across a link to the BNSF's pocket reference guide, which is almost the same as ours.  (Which is what one would expect since we're all running the same system.)  You think I could find it again?  Nope.

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Posted by mudchicken on Friday, April 06, 2018 1:25 AM

First and most obvious, main track is identified in the Employee TT. 

Less obvious is the more detailed annual filed FRA mileage statements filled out and maintained by Engineering on the bigger railroads and by the front office on the smaller roads. (there is a process to demote main tracks to side-track status and it's getting used a little more often now. I've a feeling that FRA and STB might be auditing certain outfits and will find compliance a little shaky. Folks have gotten away with things for years because of staffing and brain drain issues at FRA and STB, it appears (especilly with STB) that has to change for integrity reasons.

Murph - After Graniteville, PIH related statutes (absurd or justified) came with the knee-jerk political reactions, black-box unrealistic expectations and all. (or hadn't the sarcasm from some on this forum registered over the disconnect from reality by those who never understood the technology, but still blindly push buttons? Mischief)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Friday, April 06, 2018 7:20 AM

 

Mudchicken- from your description, it sounds like both the lines I used as examples would be considered a mainline. By the same token, it would seem the little Ellis & Eastern Railroad in our city could fall under the same rules? They probably push some ammonia around on their line. They have about a 7 mile line that is their “main” line.

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, April 06, 2018 8:07 AM

Murphy Siding
Mudchicken- from your description, it sounds like both the lines I used as examples would be considered a mainline. By the same token, it would seem the little Ellis & Eastern Railroad in our city could fall under the same rules? They probably push some ammonia around on their line. They have about a 7 mile line that is their “main” line.

Most all railroad lines are 'Main Lines' by the simplest of definitions.  Employee TT's may designate certain very low volume lines 'Industrial Tracks" or some other similar term.

Tracks subject to PTC are designated upon the character of the traffic they routinely handle with PIH HAZMAT and Passenger Operations being things that require PTC.  Main Tracks that don''t handle PIH HAZMAT and/or Passenger are not required to have PTC.

The initial PTC legislation set in motion actions by the carriers to focus PIH HAZMAT onto a more limited route structure than they were operating prior to the legislation, thus limiting the installation of PTC to lesser mileage than originally envisioned.  

         

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Posted by LithoniaOperator on Friday, April 06, 2018 8:17 AM

I know that some argue that PTC is no panacea. But there are no panaceas.

I look at that video, and my reaction is, "If this technology is available, why would we not want to use it?" Thumbs up to the government for mandating this.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, April 06, 2018 10:07 AM

LithoniaOperator

I know that some argue that PTC is no panacea. But there are no panaceas.

I look at that video, and my reaction is, "If this technology is available, why would we not want to use it?" Thumbs up to the government for mandating this.

 
PTC is not an off-the-shelf technology package found in various suppliers' catalogs.  Many of the individual components are proven but the concept as a whole has been a case of development while being installed.
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Posted by samfp1943 on Friday, April 06, 2018 10:58 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH

 

 
LithoniaOperator

I know that some argue that PTC is no panacea. But there are no panaceas.

I look at that video, and my reaction is, "If this technology is available, why would we not want to use it?" Thumbs up to the government for mandating this.

 

 

 
PTC is not an off-the-shelf technology package found in various suppliers' catalogs.  Many of the individual components are proven but the concept as a whole has been a case of development while being installed.
 

[RANT] SoapBox          PTC is probably a really good, and life-saving idea.BUT, now what you have, is a bunch of self-serving Politicians; who though it was a good idea. Particularly, when it would seemed to be a vehicle to get them some 'good press', AND MAYBE, some votes.

    Like many things the Government does, it amounts to mandating, one size-fits all solution, to a gee-whiz, partially, thought out technological problem,  .  

If you think that is a pretty good idea, ask the female in your life, how she feels about buying 'a one size fits-all girdle', off the rack, in a discount store...Whistling

OK. Off my soap-box SoapBox

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by tree68 on Friday, April 06, 2018 11:27 AM

There are really two factors at play - one is safety, and presumably PTC will increase safety.  I suspect, however, that we'll never really know other than a potential reduction in incidents like Cayce.  It's a bit like teaching schoolkids fire prevention - nobody reports a fire that didn't start.

I wonder if there is/will be a built in reporting of penalty applications - incidents where PTC may well have prevented an incident.

The other factor is economic.  Since PTC has been added somewhat incrementally, we likely won't be seeing the type of short term effect that accompanied the implementation of electronic logs for truckers.  We can't dispute the economic plus of not having to clean up wrecks and all that entails, but it may be harder to measure economic gains attributable to PTC.

And the economic gains (or lack thereof) is what no doubt drove the railroads self-deployment of PTC - which is to say that without a government mandate, it possibly would not have happened.

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, April 06, 2018 12:22 PM

tree68
I wonder if there is/will be a built in reporting of penalty applications - incidents where PTC may well have prevented an incident.

Yes.  If the PTC has to stop your train (going into the red zone is the term, I guess), it must be reported and then will be handled as appropriate.

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Friday, April 06, 2018 1:00 PM

jeffhergert

 Scroll down for a video of what PTC is on this page.  

http://www.bnsf.com/in-the-community/safety-and-security/positive-train-control.html 

We have been running PTC since late last summer, when the lead engine is equipped.  Everyone seems to like it.  It lets you see six miles ahead.  There are a few things that could be better, but has PTC evolves those changes may happen.

Jeff

PS.  I once ran across a link to the BNSF's pocket reference guide, which is almost the same as ours.  (Which is what one would expect since we're all running the same system.)  You think I could find it again?  Nope.

 

Thanks for the link. I understand the big picture a little better now. Please give me run through of how it works from the cab.

      So, I hop in, flip the magic PTC button, put 'er in gear and I'm off to see the Wizard? Then everything is cool until a disembodied voice asks me if I'm still there and shuts down the train if I don't answer back?Stick out tongue

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Friday, April 06, 2018 4:47 PM

Metra (Chicago) has announced that they are needing more time to "Flip" a train when it reverses at the end of a run due to the time it takes to download the data for the PTC before it can start its new run. It had been able to flip in ten minutes and now is going to allow fifteen. Currently, the engineer removes the reverser, Cuts out the brake control, closes the cab (not sure what is required to change the control of the locomotive) and walks to the other end of the train and does the reverse of what he just did. Soon, he will have to do a data download from the RR's computer to the trains and hopefully everything goes according to plan. And as Metra discussed in their video, their trains have to work with multiple Railroads systems. Southwest service as they state has to work (communicate with) Metra, Amtrak, NS, C&WI, & CSX. What could go wrong? BNSF should be a piece of cake by comparison. 

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Posted by rdamon on Friday, April 06, 2018 5:24 PM

Found an active video link for METRA's PTC delay Electroliner reffered to.



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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, April 06, 2018 9:00 PM

zugmann

 

 
tree68
I wonder if there is/will be a built in reporting of penalty applications - incidents where PTC may well have prevented an incident.

 

Yes.  If the PTC has to stop your train (going into the red zone is the term, I guess), it must be reported and then will be handled as appropriate.

 

We must report all PTC initiated braking events.  If it's from a glitch or other unforseen cause, no problem for the engineer.  If you just run your train up to the point, without taking any action, where PTC intiates braking it becomes a train handling incident.  I believe it's going to be handled as a critical incident for disciplinary action.  

Jeff

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Posted by tree68 on Saturday, April 07, 2018 6:55 AM

jeffhergert
We must report all PTC initiated braking events.

What I was kind of wondering is whether that information will see the light of day - will a railroad, at any point, be willing to share with the public that PTC initiated penalty braking X times, potentially preventing Y collisions, etc.

Even if this was insulated from the individuals and the railroads (ie, a blanket report from the Feds) it could serve to justify the tremendous expense of installing the system.  OTOH, if collisions and other incidents continue to occur at a similar rate, it would seem to be something of a condemnation of the effort.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Saturday, April 07, 2018 8:09 AM

tree68
 
jeffhergert
We must report all PTC initiated braking events.

 

What I was kind of wondering is whether that information will see the light of day - will a railroad, at any point, be willing to share with the public that PTC initiated penalty braking X times, potentially preventing Y collisions, etc.

Even if this was insulated from the individuals and the railroads (ie, a blanket report from the Feds) it could serve to justify the tremendous expense of installing the system.  OTOH, if collisions and other incidents continue to occur at a similar rate, it would seem to be something of a condemnation of the effort.

 

I think that information would be a something of a hot potato. As such, it would be used by corporate PR/Spin departments to make it look however they wanted it to appear.

     With the right amount of creative writing, you could make the data look like a big financial drain on the poor stockholders and ask for some government concessions to make things right. Crying On the other hand, you could prove that your railroad is much safer now- “just look at the number of crashes we could have had!” Mischief

 

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Saturday, April 07, 2018 8:11 AM

Murphy Siding
 
jeffhergert

 Scroll down for a video of what PTC is on this page.  

http://www.bnsf.com/in-the-community/safety-and-security/positive-train-control.html 

We have been running PTC since late last summer, when the lead engine is equipped.  Everyone seems to like it.  It lets you see six miles ahead.  There are a few things that could be better, but has PTC evolves those changes may happen.

Jeff

PS.  I once ran across a link to the BNSF's pocket reference guide, which is almost the same as ours.  (Which is what one would expect since we're all running the same system.)  You think I could find it again?  Nope.

 

 

 

Thanks for the link. I understand the big picture a little better now. Please give me run through of how it works from the cab.

      So, I hop in, flip the magic PTC button, put 'er in gear and I'm off to see the Wizard? Then everything is cool until a disembodied voice asks me if I'm still there and shuts down the train if I don't answer back?Stick out tongue

 

 

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

     What does the engineer or dispatcher do differently with PTC?

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Posted by tree68 on Saturday, April 07, 2018 10:28 AM

Murphy Siding
What does the engineer or dispatcher do differently with PTC?

My impression is that with PTC, the engineer simply has to comply with displayed restrictions (speed, restricting signals/situations).  

On a trip with no special situations, and assuming that the engineer knows and  complies with all existing restrictions, I would opine that PTC just becomes another display on the console.

If PTC completely replaces signals, though, it will become very important, and subject to constant monitoring.  Even with moving blocks.

This could be a problem, since the PTC display, as shown in the video, is much more complex than cab signals, which I believe simply show aspects.  Thus it will take more than a glance to resolve what you're seeing and convert it to usable information.

Just like driving - if you stay within the speed limit and obey stop signs/lights and other traffic regulations, you don't get a ticket.

That does raise an interesting sidelight, though - my personal GPS apps usually display the speed limit.  How far are we from getting a ticket because an onboard GPS in our personal vehicles sends information to an enforcement authority advising that we've exceeded the speed limit?

It would be very easy to make a condition of getting a driver's license or licensing a vehicle that your speed could be monitored as such...

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Saturday, April 07, 2018 11:28 AM

tree68

That does raise an interesting sidelight, though - my personal GPS apps usually display the speed limit.  How far are we from getting a ticket because an onboard GPS in our personal vehicles sends information to an enforcement authority advising that we've exceeded the speed limit?

It would be very easy to make a condition of getting a driver's license or licensing a vehicle that your speed could be monitored as such...

 

Or a component of your insurance coverage.

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Posted by MikeFF on Saturday, April 07, 2018 11:35 AM

RAILPACE has a summary from an AMTRAK engineer's perspective in the April issue.  Can't speak to accuracy. 

Mike

 

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Posted by samfp1943 on Saturday, April 07, 2018 1:09 PM

Murphy Siding

 

 
tree68

That does raise an interesting sidelight, though - my personal GPS apps usually display the speed limit.  How far are we from getting a ticket because an onboard GPS in our personal vehicles sends information to an enforcement authority advising that we've exceeded the speed limit?

It would be very easy to make a condition of getting a driver's license or licensing a vehicle that your speed could be monitored as such...

 

 

 

"...Or a component of your insurance coverage..."    As a side not to what  these previous posters have noted.. Over the last few days there has been a series of adverts run on lcal TV broadcasts of ' enhancements' being offered by Ford Motors on their Fusion package....One is a parental 'speed control'; the other seems to be a form of  'location monitor(?)'.. Both being mentioned as accrssories for an automoble that will have 'teenage operators'.  IMHO they would seem to be a bit of overkill. Sigh    [ I do not think that if I could not completely trust one to operate a vehicle safely, They wouldeither be driven to, and from those events, or left to their own to get to those locations.] 

 I know that some Insurance carriers are selling, or providing their subscribers, forms of in-car monitors; devices that somehow track the information regarding vehicle operations.   We defintely seem to be getting closer to the times when 'Big Brother' is very, and watching, and possibly taking notes? Whistling

 

 

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by zardoz on Saturday, April 07, 2018 3:26 PM

Murphy Siding

 

 
tree68

That does raise an interesting sidelight, though - my personal GPS apps usually display the speed limit.  How far are we from getting a ticket because an onboard GPS in our personal vehicles sends information to an enforcement authority advising that we've exceeded the speed limit?

It would be very easy to make a condition of getting a driver's license or licensing a vehicle that your speed could be monitored as such...

 

 

 

Or a component of your insurance coverage.

 

Some toll roads (like in Illinois) have a 'speed pass' type system where you can pass through tolls without stopping due to a transponder in the car that is read by roadside readers. Use of such devices in 'encouraged' by the toll fare set at roughly 50% of what you pay if you stop and use cash.

If authorities were really interested in speed control, the travel time between each toll could be used to deduce the vehicle speed; it would be an easy way to enforce traffic laws in a similar way as states that use roadside cameras to nab speeders. They could just mail a speeding ticket the the vehicle owner.

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Posted by zardoz on Saturday, April 07, 2018 3:32 PM

jeffhergert
 

We must report all PTC initiated braking events.  If it's from a glitch or other unforseen cause, no problem for the engineer.  If you just run your train up to the point, without taking any action, where PTC intiates braking it becomes a train handling incident.  I believe it's going to be handled as a critical incident for disciplinary action.  

Jeff

 

Jeez, am I glad I'm retired!

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