U.S. Dot makes railroad safety technology grants

Written by jrood

U. S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that seven projects will share $50 million to help make the nation's rail system safer by facilitating deployment of Positive Train Control (PTC) collision avoidance systems and other advanced technologies. The projects will receive money through the new Railroad Safety Technology Grant (RSTG) program.

PTC systems use Global
Positioning System (GPS) technology to monitor and control a train’s movements,
in order to enforce speed limits, prevent train collisions and,  help keep
rail workers safe.
Awards vary in size and scope ranging from $500,000
to $21 million and include private corporations, academic institutions and
public authorities.

"Safety is our highest
priority," said Secretary LaHood. "This new program will help keep the rails
safer by accelerating installation of positive train control technology where
it is most needed."

The Federal Railroad
Administration received 41 grant applications requesting more than $228
million. Decisions on the competitively awarded grants were based on
technical merit, including the extent to which a project helps achieve
interoperability between technologies, and the recipient’s project management
capabilities and financial commitment to share costs.

Noting that all railroads
will benefit from the work funded by the program, Federal Railroad
Administrator Joseph C. Szabo said, "We are funding projects that confer the
greatest benefits to the entire railroad community."

FRA issued a Notice of
Funding Availability on March 29, 2009 inviting applications from passenger and
freight railroads, industry suppliers and state and local governments. Notably,
the program requires that selected projects be ready for deployment within 24
months of receiving a grant award and that grantees share 20 percent of the
total cost. Recipients must also have received FRA approval of a Technology
Implementation Plan and PTC Implementation Plan, or successfully demonstrated
that they could do so.

The RSTG program was
authorized by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA), which imposed a
statutory deadline of December 31, 2015 for PTC implementation on mainline
tracks that carry passenger trains and certain hazardous material shipments. The
selected projects are distinct and will help achieve resolution of technical
challenges affecting all stakeholders.

Grant awardees for the
Fiscal Year 2010 RSGT Program are as follows:

• Southern California
Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), $6,605,446. Shared LA PTC Communications
Infrastructure:  The project will develop and test the communications best
practices guide for all railroads that must implement a standard Vital Train
Management System (VTMS), which requires an interoperable communication
architecture that will allow trains to operate safely across railroad networks
using the Los Angeles basin as the prototype.

• National Passenger Rail
Corporation- (Amtrak) 
Washington, D.C., $12,850,000. Advanced Civil Speed
Enforcement System (ACSES) – 
Vital Train Management System  (VTMS)
Interoperability:  The  project will focus on achieving
interoperability between the 
PTC system used on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor,
known as ACSES, and the VTMS being adopted by freight railroads.

• New York Metropolitan
Transit Authority (MTA)  New Jersey
Transit/Metro North Railroad, New York, $6,596,000. Advanced Civil Speed
Enforcement System (ACSES) -
 Interface Control Documentation:  The
MTA will develop and test the interface specifications (i.e. Interface Control
Document) for the major subsystems of the Amtrak Northeast Corridor ACSES PTC

• Meterocomm
Communications Corp-Renton, Wash.,$21,050,000. 220 MHz PTC Radio HW Design
Integration testing and Locomotive Noise Study:   The project builds
the required radio platform for an interoperable communications network across
multiple railroads deploying the Vital Train Management System (VTMS)
technology using a 220MHz radio frequency.

• Howard University- 
Washington, D.C., $857,106. PTC System Identity Management: The project t
will develop performance models for cryptographic key management required to
ensure safe and secure interoperable PTC system communication. 

• Railroad Research
Washington, D.C., $1,541,448. Rail Corridor Risk Management: The
project will enhance and provide ongoing implementation of the Rail Corridor
Risk Management System (RCRMS) as a key enabling technology for the industry in
accomplishing the objectives of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

• Westinghouse Airbrake
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, $500,000. Video PTC Database Survey
Verification: The project will prove the ability to use ordinary video
currently collected in a locomotive run through a subdivision to validate PTC
Survey location points.