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An Example of how PTC will affect Commuter Rail Schedules

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New Rock Island Line schedule finalized to meet demands of Positive Train Control

https://metrarail.com/about-metra/newsroom/new-rock-island-line-schedule-finalized-meet-demands-positive-train-control

To handle as many passengers as it does during the morning rush period, Metra must quickly turn trains around at downtown stations and send them back out to make more inbound trips. The same applies to the evening rush period, as trains complete their trips to the suburbs and turn back to pick up more customers downtown. Metra calls this process “flipping” a train, and it will take longer because of PTC.
 
To flip a train, the engineer must move from the cab car to the locomotive or vice versa, and the crew must clear the train, perform a brake test and conduct a job briefing. With the added task of initializing the PTC system, these “flips” are expected to take more than 10 minutes, so the schedule of about a dozen trains were adjusted, and those changes, in turn, affected other trains on the schedule. A video explaining the changes can be found at metrarail.com/PTC.

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That is indeed a feature of I-ETMS, not necessarily of any and all PTC systems.

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Why does the system take so long to initialize?

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Why does the system take so long to initialize?

I am not sure why I-ETMS requires a whole huge database to be downloaded each time it is initialized. Someone who knows more about the inards of I-ETMS may be able to help.

 

It may have something to do with the fact that all the information that the engine picks up on the fly from track mounted transponders in something like ACSES, has to be downloaded up front in I-ETMS. But I am not sure.

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I-ETMS is so terrible.  It's just embarassing that the US couldn't adopt ETCS/ERTMS.  Oh well, that's what we get for living in an underdeveloped country.

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I remember reading somewhere that within the yards (IIRC Metra specific, but could be wrong) there is a different system than PTC in use?

Metra doesn't have unlimited funds and probably, as proscribed by law, went with a low bidder, but I don't know how they wrote the RFP/specs either.

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11 hours ago, neroden said:

I-ETMS is so terrible.  It's just embarassing that the US couldn't adopt ETCS/ERTMS.  Oh well, that's what we get for living in an underdeveloped country.

I'm a noob, so can someone roughly explain the difference between these, and why the U.S. had to adopt I-ETMS? 

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On 2/9/2019 at 2:34 PM, daybeers said:

Why does the system take so long to initialize?

 

21 hours ago, jis said:


I am not sure why I-ETMS requires a whole huge database to be downloaded each time it is initialized. Someone who knows more about the inards of I-ETMS may be able to help.

It may have something to do with the fact that all the information that the engine pucks up on the fly from track mounted transponders in something like ACSES, has to be downloaded up front in I-ETMS. But I am not sure.

Long story short. Something like ACSES is a generic control system tailored to a type a train while I-ETMS is specific to your particular train. Therefore, everything about your train and crew has to be entered. Then, the appropriate information is downloaded to the system.

Edited by Thirdrail7

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Yup. It is geared more towards handling freight trains with varying characteristics rather than standard consist and braking characteristics passenger trains. No one in their right mind would use it on a primarily suburban passenger service route. Of course US has a vanishingly small number of those, and yet People's Republic of California went with I-ETMS on all its primarily suburban routes. It just goes to support my hypothesis that in many parts of the US passenger service is run mostly as a hobby and not as a serious enterprise. And that is why no one bothers to seriously question outrageous costs of building and operation, and do something about it, other than raise fares and cut back service.

There is a reason that Brightline chose to use E-ATC and not I-ETMS. The fancy features of the latter are unnecessary for its operations and apparently even for the uniform operating characteristics freight trains that FECR operates.

It is not unusual for a suburban EMU to be turned in 5 minutes elsewhere in the world and in principle possible, even in the Northeast. But not so in the rest of the US, where they are happy to run passenger railroad like it is 1950s in Iowa, minus the passenger facilities.

 

Edited by jis

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On 2/10/2019 at 10:19 AM, cpotisch said:

I'm a noob, so can someone roughly explain the difference between these, and why the U.S. had to adopt I-ETMS? 

Under normal circumstances being one of the last parties to implement a technology based upgrade allows you to enjoy the fastest and cheapest solution that prevailed over all others, but here in the US we eschew anything that could be construed as efficient or cooperative, so the first item on our invoice is a reinvented wheel with square dimensions at twice the usual price.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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Ugh. I'm all around disappointed to hear the reasons behind it, but am not one bit surprised.

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