Denver’s Regional Transportation District submits plan to fix PTC, signal, crossing problems

Written by Staff and newswire report
RTD train crossing
A train crosses York St. at 40th Ave. in Denver.
Regional Transportation District of Denver

The Regional Transportation District has released a 35-page plan outlining the steps it will take to resolve issues with crossing gates on the line that serves the Denver International Airport.

The plan is in response to a threat by the Federal Railroad Administration to pull a waiver that allows the A Line to operate with new wireless gate technology. The FRA has complained that gates come down too early and remain down too long with the new system. That waiver already requires that flaggers man every crossing. The costs associated with the flaggers are one of the issues that led to a series of lawsuits between the RTD and the contractor that built the gate system and operates the line, Denver Transit Partners. DTP is comprised of a partnership among Fluor Enterprises, Inc. (a unit of Fluor Corp.); Denver Rail (Eagle) Holdings, Inc., a unit of John Laing plc; and Aberdeen Infrastructure Investments (No 4) USA LLC, a unit of Aberdeen Global Infrastructure Partners LP. Other team members include: Balfour Beatty Rail Inc., ACI, Ames Construction and HDR.

An integrated Positive Train Control (PTC) and Wireless Crossing Activation System (WCAS) employed on the RTDC system was manufactured by Wabtec. Xorail, a Wabtec company, integrated the Wabtec PTC and WCAS systems with signaling and grade crossing activation systems from Alstom and Siemens “to provide an integrated and safe grade crossing activation and warning system that uniquely enforces and protects the FRA mandated minimum warning time of twenty (20) seconds,” according to the correction plan released by RTD.

A spokesperson for Wabtec told Railway Track & Structures the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.

RTD is the first electrified railroad to use the new Wabtec PTC/WCAS system.

Among the corrective actions that RTD envisions are the installation of Radio Frequency repeaters of GPS signal to improve reception and a review of the WCAS activation and prediction algorithm (which RTD believes may have “too aggressive an acceleration curve with too large a safety factor.” RTD will also consider the use of other techniques and technologies, including TWC loop detection and motion-detection systems.

The A Line has 11 at-grade crossings, 10 of which it shares with the Union Pacific. In June of this year, the FRA gave RTD permission to remove flaggers from six of those crossings.

Categories: C&S, Commuter/Regional, OFF Track Maintenance, Passenger, Regulatory, Safety/Training
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