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Monday, August 10, 2009

ARINC works with D.C. Metro on train system

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ARINC is helping Washington Metro officials design a new system to avoid rail collisions just weeks after a deadly train crash near the Maryland state line, according to The Capitol in Annapolis, Md. Officials from the Parole-based company said they are providing expertise as its workers develop technologies to position the company as a frontrunner in helping trains everywhere run more safely. That's in response to a federal mandate requiring rail operators to upgrade their systems to help prevent collisions and deaths of railway workers by 2015.
Metro officials are working with ARINC on a customized system that can track circuit issues in real time, something the current system cannot do, said Steven Taubenkibel, spokesman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.


"Something like this we cannot buy off a shelf," Taubenkibel said. "Whatever the cost, we'll find a way to pay for it."


ARINC began working with Metro after a train slammed into another train stopped on the tracks, a crash that killed nine people and injured more than 70 others. The cause of the crash, the deadliest in the rail system's 33-year history, has not been determined. But, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, one of the Metro trains was not identified on a rail control circuit, which caused the second train to crash into it.


Last month, the board issued an urgent safety recommendation to the authority that calls for "enhanced safety redundancy of its train control system." Metro officials now are waiting for a final report from the board on the cause of the accident and its recommendations.


Currently, ARINC has a contract to build Metro's control center, said John Belcher, chief executive officer of ARINC. Besides offering its expertise to Metro officials, ARINC also is developing "positive-rail control" technology, Belcher said.


Positive-rail control is technology that controls train movements and is designed to prevent train collisions, derailments, and injuries and deaths of roadway workers, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.


The federal Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandates the "widespread installation" of positive-train control systems by December 2015.


"We believe with the mandate of 2015, all of the systems that are in today will have to go to that route," Belcher said. "We're going to be the ones to be able to lead the way."


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