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FRA approves PTC overlay

01 Feb 2007

ON JANUARY 8 the US Federal Railroad Administration formally approved the implementation of Positive Train Control on BNSF, the first such application to receive full clearance. Developed by Wabtec, the Electronic Train Management System is 'an overlay technology that augments and supplements existing train control methods'. ETMS sends vital information, such as movement authorities, speed restrictions and turnout positions to an on-board display in the loco cab using a digital communications network. Train location is tracked using GPS. If a dangerous situation arises and the crew fails to respond to warnings, ETMS will initiate an automatic brake application. Development began in 2003, when FRA granted BNSF a waiver allowing Wabtec to install and test ETMS on 50 locomotives using the the 220?km route between Beardstown and Centralia, Illinois. Since the pilot project went live in October 2004, BNSF has run more than 2 000 revenue trains using ETMS-equipped locos, and the system has successfully passed all tests. Implementation of ETMS on the 480?km route between Alabama City, Kansas, and Fort Worth, Texas, is due to begin in the second quarter of 2007.n