May 11, 2020
PNW & TriMet Achieve PTC Certification Thanks to MRS
TriMet WES Website
On May 11, Portland and Western Railroad (PNW) and TriMet became the first operating railroad in the country to fully implement and receive certification for their PTC system. This marks the culmination of years of work to implement the Enhanced Automatic Train Control (E-ATC) system on their system to help them comply with the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) of 2008.
This federal mandate modified railroad safety regulations by mandating the use of PTC technology. So, MRS designed, furnished, installed, and implemented the first E-ATC type PTC on the TriMet WES commuter rail. This upgrade to their existing signaling system brought TriMet’s commuter rail system into compliance with the FRA mandate and was delivered at a significantly lower cost and impact to operations than the existing freight solution.
To do so, MRS took an active role to understand the new requirements and to develop what became the E-ATC solution that could meet the mandate by utilizing existing technology rather than requiring a redundant and expensive overlay system. Because MRS has already implemented an automatic train control (ATC) system on TriMet’s WES line, which met most of the federal requirements, the E-ATC solution was an efficient, cost-effective solution that increased the probability of a successful transition from ATC to PTC.
TriMet’s original ATC System, provided by MRS, already met most of the PTC requirements. MRS enhanced the software that controls, civil speed limits, temporary speed restrictions in work zones, and some automatic grade crossing protections, by upgrading the existing system to E-ATC.
One particular benefit our team was able to bring to the process was streamlining the testing procedures. In order to meet the December 2018 deadline, the team developed an innovative solution to perform the large amount of field testing required to fully validate the entire set of E-ATC functions. We identified and introduced a new software testing application, the Vital-Sim Logic Simulator (VSLS), and demonstrated its use to the FRA. The program was deemed acceptable for use in commissioning certain aspects of the integrated system. Our use of the VSLS software saved man-hours for signal engineers and improved the accuracy and efficiency of engineering and programming processes.
Our team’s work on the WES commuter rail PTC project paved the way for multiple other commuter railroads to use MRS’ E-ATC solution to comply with the PTC mandate.