Talk:Positive train control

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Important open question[edit]

Is "Positive Train Control" just another generic term for Train protection system (compare also Category:Train protection system), a specific class of train protection system, or a specific system? --Pjacobi (talk) 10:29, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Good question. "Positive Train Control" (PTC) is not a generic train protection system. It is a specific technology as described in the Positive Train Control article. Truthanado (talk) 23:33, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
That's the point I don't agree to. I don't see anything in the article which distinguishes PTC from e.g. LZB or ETCS. And in fact all five mandatory bullet points sort of apply to all TPCs, with some caveats as Le Crocodile isn't exactly wireless and PZB and all older systems have a rather low degree of resolution in their knowledge where the trains are located. --Pjacobi (talk) 16:37, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
One key difference is that PTC can operate in non-signaled "dark" territory on mainline North American freight railroads, where there is little (if any) trackside equipment. In fact, that is probably where it will make its biggest impact. LZB, ETCS, Le Crocodile etc. are used on signaled European railways that primarily carry passenger trains. Parts of the technology are similar, but the overall system is different, with PTC being independent of trackside equipment, instead using GPS for train location. Truthanado (talk) 00:43, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
I guess first we have to answer the question What makes up the PTC? and then we should decide, what is a PTC and what's not. The crucial thing is operation in "dark" territory whith no track side equipment.

The system seems to be closest to ETCS Level 2, but ETCS does not relay soley on GPS data for location, it uses also some fix passiv balises. Beside of that there is no other wayside equipment.

The chapter Where PTC is used acutally lists also Train protection system which are not PTC-like. Most of them do not even have a control center knowing the acutal position of the trains:
* AWS - fix installation, no control center
* PZB - fix installation, no control center
* LZB - fix installation, control center
* Le Crocodile fix installation, no control center

On the other side is missing:
* ETCS Level 2 - no fix installation except passiv balises for location, control center, moving authority over GSM-signal.

other ETCS Levels are not PTC like:
* ETCS Level 1 is not PTC style because of fix installation
* ETCS Level 3 will most probably never exist since the Europeans do not get out a system to savely detect the completness of the train while moving.

I guess the sentence PTC does not generate movement authorities is wrong. The movmenent authorities are normaly exactly the thing the system is working with. (Yes, it is true that it likely to go reduce the trafic density.)Pechristener (talk) 18:59, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Train completeness is foremost a problem of freight trains. Anyway, comparing PTC to ERTMS is hardly possible since the attempts of integrating GNSS-augmented satellite localization into ERTMS have failed so far, e.g. with LOCOPROL. If the US want to take over the development risk of satellite train positioning then it may still be added later like ERTMS Regional as another low-cost solution. Guidod (talk) 13:53, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
I've tried to distinguish and explain the term PTC. According that, "Train Protection Systems" is the upper level "umbrella" term. This article is mostly influenced by USA situation and detailed with respect to this. It's importent to get the sources of 'positive' and a look to the opposite and why it is not mentioned. I got the impression, that "positive" was occupied by marketing and the technical aspect was not clearly emphasized. And after clearing theoretical aspects of definition we have "dirty" practical implementations and imperfect and developing frameworks of law. And transitional states from old deprecated systems to moving, new holy pure future. So ETCS in Baseline 3 is generally a PTC. But Level 1 "Limited Supervision" isn't it. Actually in Germany is Indusi combined with tilting train signalling as two opposite controlling mechanisms. The successor of this combination was adopted with newest ETCS SRS definitions for tilting train speed enhancements in Level 1 LS. - We have something to do: Cleaning up german artice for ETCS and PTC to make it readable for general audience. And moving english/american PTC article to global style with american chapter. Let's start. Saxobav (talk) 07:54, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
The definition of PTC is spelled out in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and the article should revolve around that and possibly any definitions/requirements being circulated before that act was passed. I guess this makes it more a train protection specification, not a train protection system. There is no one PTC technology. Anything that implements the regulatory requirements counts as PTC.Sturmovik (talk) 13:12, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

GPS and Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, etc[edit]

This article as currently written seems to imply that Amtrak's Northeast Corridor has PTC, and that PTC normally uses GPS. As far as I know, GPS is not involved in the Northeast Corridor signaling at all. I think we need clarification on specific examples of which systems deployed in the real world actually do use GPS. Also remember that GPS does not have sufficient resolution to tell a train which track it is on where there are multiple parallel tracks along a single right of way (track centers can be 20 feet apart or less, which is very different from an airport environment where a single runway can be over 100 feet wide); any description of a GPS based system ought to explain how the system knows which track it is on. JNW2 (talk) 00:30, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

I fixed all of the issues with the technical content of the article based on a number of good sources I found online and the July 2009 FRA proposed regulations. Sturmovik (talk) 17:49, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

Remove 79 mph limit?[edit]

Most passenger trains outside the Northeast Corridor and limited other regions can only go 79 miles per hour or slower due to a lack of in-cab signaling (see Speed limits in the United States (rail)). If PTC gets implemented broadly, that should make that limit go away, right? (Though I suppose most track in the U.S. is only class 4 or below, so trains would still be limited to 80..?) —Mulad (talk) 23:20, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Somewhat answering my own question, I asked about this at a Minnesota Department of Transportation forum about rail in my state, and the presenter said that yes, PTC will allow for higher speeds (if track and crossings are also rated for the higher speeds). —Mulad (talk) 20:27, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

Who is subject to Positive Train Control?[edit]

It is clear that Class 1 railroads and Commuter Railroads will have to deal with PTC on segments of their track but what about Class II railroads? Has anything been published about that? Knightdaemon (talk) 22:33, 19 February 2010 (UTC)


The following passage: "...trains "shoving"[clarification needed] in reverse..." Permit me to suggest the inclusion of a parenthetical "...trains "shoving" in reverse (PTC being administered in the locomotive, which is normally at the head end of the train)..." Paul Niquette (talk) 21:29, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

External links in manufacturers section[edit]

While I certainly agree that makers of PTC systems is something the article should mention, I object heartily to the current format of a list of external links, as it's just inappropriate per our external link policy. These should be converted to links to Wikipedia articles, at the least. Expressing it as prose would also be better. oknazevad (talk) 13:57, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

The section has been updated to remove the external links and, instead, link to the company's Wikipedia article, if one exists. Thanks. Truthanado (talk) 14:48, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Conspiracy Theories Information[edit]

The following information was attempted to be added, however it is not supported by the citation and is biased in nature if it is not verifiable.

Conspiracy Theories
Certain members of the United States of America public firmly believe that this system is being pushed into use by the government so that they can continue to move weapons around North America with minimal fuel even in a severe state of civil unrest. These views are widely held by those working in the rail industry and backed by the Government's own documentation"RPT 2012 to 2035" Riot/Civil Disorder in column 2 of page 7.

Before this information can be added to the article page, the claims need to be supported. Otherwise, it is biased content and vandalism. --TRL (talk) 03:01, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Seems legit to me. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bahahahabaha (talkcontribs) 03:07, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

PTC is more likely to to degrade the efficient movement of trains, not improve it. I'm sure some people might hold this theory, but you can find somebody who will believe almost anything.Sturmovik (talk) 11:13, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
PTC has is already implemented in numerous locations around the world and, as we can see in the Northeast Corridor and in Placentia,_California‎, higher speeds for cargo and passenger rail has been achieved already, with the Northeast Corridor currently being expanded to being PTC compliant.
It is only is service on isolated portions of the NEC and has only allowed higher speeds for certain trains due to regulatory requirements, not any sort of actual increase in capability. Furthermore the system in service on the NEC has major flaws like trains being stopped up to 1000 feet before the signal which makes it impossible to platform correctly at many stations.Sturmovik (talk) 21:53, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
It's fun to play pretend and believe one is in the know and "awake" while the rest of the dimwitted population of the planet is uninformed and asleep, yet conspiracy notions would be better to get append to the Wikiepdia List of conspiracy theories as references to said conspiracy beliefs are found on and off of the Internet.
What is not living up to PTC expectations currently is the expected cooperation and intercommunication between rail carries utilizing PTC. A certain Northern California software company (which I refuse to mention by name) which won the contract to provide the free software libraries which implement the industry-developed layers ISO 3-through-6 protocol layers offered software packages that are convoluted and complex, enough so that sharing of rail carrier assets between carries has not been as successful as hoped, yet in a national infrastructure technology upgrade such as PTC, not everything is going to work well, research and development is neither inexpensive nor perfect until the technology matures (and falls in to obsolescence, ironically enough.)
I agree: If there are dimwitted conspiracy notions, discuss specifics with references before adding a new section. Personally I would love to see growing right wing conspiracy notions arising from PTC, hopefully involving the United Nations and, if possible, the Roswell flying saucer crash. :) Damotclese (talk) 14:37, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
Someone used the Wall Street Journal for a reference here? I don't see it. I can't find it. What is the reference number? Might just as well of quoted Fox "News" or "Newsmax" or "Conservipedia." But I think whoever tried to reference the right wing publication removed their reference after you pointed out how inappropriate it is. Damotclese (talk) 02:37, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
It's #13, the man or woman who thinks train safety is a conspiracy used a subscription-only WSJ link which is why you could not find it. How's that for typical right wing conspiracy behavior? Use a link you have to pay to check? The article on the WSJ blog also talks about human life according to the title which the conspiracy believer did not quote. Isn't there WP:Policy about quote mining to violate WP:NPOV? BiologistBabe (talk) 14:34, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Kind of lacks encyclopedic tone[edit]

In the discussion about Meteorcomm in the radio band section, phrases like "to be sure" isn't a tone of rhetoric that is normally found in actual, historic, traditional encyclopedias. Does anyone have the time and energy to rework some of the rhetoric to make the article more professional? Damotclese (talk) 19:22, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

The wording goes back several years, I can not find the name of the OPE. Why don't you fix it? BiologistBabe (talk) 17:55, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
BiologistBabeBiologistBabe, the amount of time and effort to re-write the article so that it meets encyclopedic format and content is not worth my effort, I'm working in forestry now and the article needs major work, basically starting from ground zero.
In fact looking at your User page I see there are some things we do in common, my software controls major sewage treatment plants using embedded PLC within Los Angeles County, I was the first to patch out Sustex which the Bush regime created as a terrorist weapon against Iran. It would not surprise me if you're using some of my stuff.
As PTC globally matures, as my work load drops once the economy improves (if ever) I'll take a stab at rewriting it, get it up to standards and policies. Oh yeah, and without the right wing conspiracy lunacy. :) Damotclese (talk) 02:52, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Whomever fixes it needs to have the technical understanding to take what is there and make it understandable to an average person. I am not a radio spectrum guy so I am not one to try, but I think it is still valuable and should be left intact until someone can clean it up properly.Sturmovik (talk) 19:12, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

Controversy Section[edit]

The Controversy section notes the years 1987 through 2007 which makes the section obsolete. In 2008 there was 25 dead as a result of an in-cab engineer texting boys on the wayside and blowing through two signals. The number of incidents of fatalities is much, much higher than the Controversy section indicates, and fails to include literally hundreds of locomotive accidents and thousands of deaths world wide, presumably because the article is biased toward North American rail.

PTC is a North American flavor of Automatic Train Protection. It is a Congressional/NTSB definition that does not apply to other rail systems that might use different operating practices and follow different regulations. The number of deaths is accurate in the time period 1987 to 2007 and illustrates the rarity of PTC preventable fatalities on the North American rail network. In fact there has not been a single PTC preventable passenger death since 2008.Sturmovik (talk) 00:34, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

As we just saw, 79 dead in Spain a couple of days ago because a guy was doing twice the allowed speed while on the telephone looking at documentation. PTC would have imposed braking and engine down-throttle had the in-can engineer exceeded the safe operating speeds indicated for the section of track he was on.

The Controversy section badly needs updating however doing so would likely mean that the section would be increasingly unable to support its own premis and need to be removed. Damotclese (talk) 20:57, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

PTC is a concept specific to the North American railroad operating environment and was defined by an act of Congress. North American rolling stock is built to stronger standards and existing Automatic Train Control systems could have also prevented a crash similar to the one that occurred in Spain. After the Boston Back Bay derailment where an Amtrak train failed to slow for a 30mph curve after a section of 100mph track (no fatalities BTW) Amtrak installed cab signal code drops at all high risk speed restrictions. A similar system would have prevented the Spanish derailment. That's the controversy. Is the expense of PTC justified on North American rail lines where exiting speed control and crashworhniess requirements in addition to slower operating speeds already mitigate the risk of an accident? Remember PTC is being mandated on EVERY passenger route and almost all freight routes. It doesn't matter if the speeds are 40mph or 60mph or if they only see two trains per day. The FRA is unable to adopt a flexible approach to rail safety requiring it only in situation where it makes sense.Sturmovik (talk) 00:21, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
I would also like to point out that Damotclese works for a Railroad signaling vendor who stands to profit from railroads being required to purchase PTC.Sturmovik (talk) 00:45, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
No, PTC is not a concept that's limited just to North America, it is a suit of functionality being applied globally, PTC is appearing in India, Spain, various Middle Eastern countries, and parts of Europe. Sturmovik's lack of understanding of the rail road transportation infrastructure and his conspiracy notions are, at any rate, irrelevant. Also I will not respond to further to violations of Remaining Polite and No Personal Attacks from this user. If he had legitimate concerns about entries on Wikipedia, I'll evaluate them however unevidenced conspiracy notions are not worthy of my time. Thanks Damotclese (talk) 18:17, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
That wasn't a personal attack. I am simply pointing out that you have a potential conflict of interest which has been an issue on other articles in regard to language that promotes specific products. Re PTC, it can be construed as a general train protection concept, but in practice it is the North American flavor of a more generic rail safety standard. I don't think the community has reached a consensus on what the term is, but Automatic Train Protection would be more likely. Remember the PTC definition excludes level crossing protection and includes unprotected permissive operation, which European ATP systems handle differently. PTC = North American ETCS. I have never encountered the term outside of a North American context.Sturmovik (talk) 18:30, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Please pardon me for butting in. I do not see any conflict of interest, nor any problem here with NPOV. The expense for putting in signal lights at road crossings was also opposed by many when it was proposed back in the 1800s, and we are seeing people oppose the same issues with the same arguments today with the effort geared improving rail road safety. Also I doubt that saving people's lives is much of a conspiracy, Sturmovik, (left or right wing) since even Republican voters and Libertarians get slaughtered at train wrecks right along side Democratic voters. I have to agree, conspiracy beliefs belong elsewhere on WP. Desertphile (talk) 12:39, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
First there are no broad Federal laws requiring active grade crossing protections and a large % of crossings have only passive protections. Grade crossing protections have always been installed only at the locations that present the greatest risk of collision. Second, the major northeastern commuter railroads that employ Automatic Train Control systems (SEPTA, LIRR, Metro-North and the MBTA) plus Amtrak have not had a single passenger fatality involving a PTC preventable on train fitted with ATC going back just about as far as I can remember. The 1986 Chase, MD wreck involved a Conrail train that did not have an ATC system fitted. ATC works, ATC is proven and ATC is effective. Every dollar that is spent on an unnecessary safety system is a dollar not spent on getting people off the roads where the death rate is far higher. Money isn't free and we need to make safety and security choices wisely. That is why everybody who actually has to deal with rail operations is opposed to the PTC mandate. BTW you're also assuming that the technology can even function properly in today's freight environment. There was a recent Wall Street Journal article discussing how there is no way that any of the major railroads will have PTC working by 2016. Requirements for greater use of Cab Signaling and ATC could have been carried out years ago.Sturmovik (talk) 13:20, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
Butt away. :) I had worked for the locomotive transportation infrastructure c0nsp1r@c7 for over 35 years before I retired in to forestry work, and I must say, the c0nsp1r@c7 paid very well even though there were some drawbacks (I almost got captured and exposed in Kuala Lumpur and was once sent to France. France, for Xenu's sake!) But that's a good point, conspiracy beliefs about the motives of expending funds to install signal lights for surface vehicles was also expressed.
There is always push-back against progress from a minority of opinion, and PTC around the world is getting opposed by a minority opinion, we even had some politician in Bangalore visit us to argue against installing low-capacity local sewage treatment plants and PSTN digital switches. Everything gets opposed by a few, and as you note, the current behavioral trait goes way back.
Automated speed control systems are ill suited to the North American rail freight system where trains over a mile a length and 10,000 tones in weight are common. It's not a matter of being resistant to change its that such technologies will decrease capacity at best and derail trains at worst. With an average number of PTC preventable deaths per year in the single digits I fail to see the justification for investing $15 billion dollars in something with such a low return, This viewpoint has been backed up in recent articles and by the FRA's own analysis.Sturmovik (talk) 12:21, 2 August 2013 (UTC)
In the Mojave Desert there is US&S relays that date back 100 years, still in operation, still fufilling their original tasks in a dark territory that will never be brightened. Ironic to note that 100 years ago there were people opposed to such then-high-tech solutions to stop people getting slaughtered at rail and road crossings, that's a good point. Damotclese (talk) 16:53, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
My samples go through the Mojave from Mercury Test Site storage. I'm kind of worried that old technology is being used in railroads since some of what the railroads carry is stuff nobody wants getting dumped on the side of the road -- or spread around the desert. Do you have photographs of the old equipment? Is it every going to get upgraded some day? BiologistBabe (talk) 17:57, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
In my experience most of the "old technology" is completely removed with hardly any trace being left. Many of the components are still valuable and no longer manufactured so care is taken to recover them intact.Sturmovik (talk) 19:15, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

Suitable reference needed[edit]

The WP:External Links policy: The link to the Wall Street Journal blog was removed for violation of this policy. We need to find a more suitable reference to support the text which begins The cost of implementing PTC on up to 25... which does not require subscription. In fact the Wall Street Journal should not be used as a legitimate reference for any claim. BiologistBabe (talk) 14:49, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

The linked article does not require a subscription and the Wall Street Journal IS a legitimate source of news. You're accusing me of WP:POV while calling the WSJ a non-legitimate source? I am replacing the citation with a non-linked one if that makes you happy.Sturmovik (talk) 21:04, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
See also WP:Citing Sources BiologistBabe (talk) 14:52, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Ah, that's Surmvex once again, the guy trying to make PTC a local conspiracy. I still could not find the reference, it may be that with AdBlock Plus installed, links to WSJ are eliminated, my #13 was not the subscription link, I expect my 13 was your 14.
By the way, your email at USAMRIID did not work, it bounced. Send email to my Crystal Lake address, I want to find out if you are using the ancient Prolog PLC which, you might not know, it fine for sewage treatment but is banned from vital systems like in the rail road industry. The PLC is not time-definitive, it lacks the predictive real time functionality needed for vital systems. It would be fine -- as good as embedded Linux -- for rail road, but at the time, Prolog PLC was the only thing available for non-vital sewage treatment. :) Which makes me laugh considering the stark role reversal USAMRIID uses the ancient systems for. You people are insane to work with BioHazard Level 4 and rely upon PLC for monitoring. Damotclese (talk) 15:39, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
This might be a better reference, one that is legitimate and does not violate WP policy: Damotclese (talk) 00:10, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I have not been paying attention, I only just now saw that the WP:NPOV conspiracy editor has altered the text again to support his notions. Did he put the for-pay citation back? We may need to ask for an RFC or for admin evaluation of his behavior. BiologistBabe (talk) 20:43, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
I'm NOT the "conspiracy" guy. That was somebody else.Sturmovik (talk) 21:32, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Sturmovik Edits[edit]

Sturmovik, you have a history of altering the article here to advance your anti-PTC WP:POV. Assuming you do not wish to be blocked for behavior you have been warned about, you might wish to discuss your proposed edits before you make them, find out what people who actually know the subject have to say about your proposed edits first. BiologistBabe (talk) 20:37, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Otherwise we may need to require the assistance of admin to evaluate your behavior. BiologistBabe (talk) 20:38, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
The CBTC system installed on the Ashmont–Mattapan High Speed Line PCC trolleys is NOT a Railroad PTC system. This is the actions of a signal vendor that is trying to increase exposure for their products, nothing more. MBTA Commuter Rail currently uses the ACSES PTC System as part of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. That's why I have undone this edit and will continue to do so. If you don't like it go get an admin.Sturmovik (talk) 20:45, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
No, BiologistBabe, not yet, please don't involve admin unless it gets seriously out of control. I have a copy of the original before the problem user started vandalising the page, and if I can get a working email address from you I'll send you a copy of the original as it was a year ago. Yet there are good reasons to allow the user to continue for now. Your office email is bouncing. Thanks! Damotclese (talk) 20:51, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Is there really any disagreement that a Streetcar CBTC system is somehow a railroad PTC system? An anonymous user keeps slipping it back in with a big old link to a signal vendor. That's called a product placement.Sturmovik (talk) 21:08, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Okay. The MRIID no longer allows emails from outside of .gov or .mil email addresses, the problem (which makes me laugh) is virus and Trojan software being sent to us, often from foreign servers, so everything gets blocked. Send email to with "BiologistBabe" in the Subject line and it will get to me. And yes, the anti-PTC people are almost as bad as the anti-MMR vaccination people; everything is a "liberal conspiracy." --sigh-- BiologistBabe (talk) 21:31, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
If there's anything that's a conspiracy its the signal industry pushing for costly signaling improvements that can't be justified via a rational economic analysis. As a self-identified biologist what is your experience in rail transit or railroad signaling? If I was really looking to run afoul of WP:NPV I would add to the article the way that the NTSB was advocating for cab signals and ATC until the signaling industry chimed in with their promises of PTC with its very "low cost" wireless infrastructure and how it could drive trains automatically! Unfortunately I don't have any good sources for that, but the fact that industry, regulators, transit agencies, the unions and the rank and file employees are against it should tell you something. Now can I please bounce the CBTC product placement?Sturmovik (talk) 22:21, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

I'm an administrator, but I'm first and foremost an editor. I'm not sure I understand the problem with [1]? Communications-based train control is understood as a separate technology from positive train control; Argenia itself makes that distinction. Are there any reliable, independent sources asserting that there is PTC on the High Speed Line? Mackensen (talk) 03:12, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

PTC is a set of technical requirements which can be met by CBTC, but the requirements apply to North American main line railroads covered by the Association of American Railroads. We need to make sure that the same technologies aren't dumped in multiple articles covering CBTC, PTC, Automatic Train Protection etc. In the case of an exemplar PTC system, the MBTA CBTC system on the Red Line would not count. In fact all of the MBTA transit lines would qualify as having PTC if PTC applied in a transit context.Sturmovik (talk) 03:03, 1 September 2013 (UTC)


Isn't this frequency still allocated to amateur radio in Canada? K7L (talk) 19:00, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

Getting a bit obsolete[edit]

There is a lot of obsolete information here and I'm wondering if anyone currently has plans to do a rather lengthy upgrade. Some of the radio communications aspects of PTC compliance in the USA have been disapproved or approved which the article could mention albeit suitable industry references and citations to link to are still rather lacking since things are in a state of rapid flux.

The Meteorcomm ITC public package has some changes which the article doesn't contain, and it looks like some 80% of the USA class 1 carriers have selected Wabtec to do their PTC. I'm wondering if anybody has plans to flesh out some of the latest issues of progress toward PTC. TrainsOnTime (talk) 17:58, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Most of the radio stuff should probably just be removed as generally being irreverent to something that is defined by functional requirements, not any specific technology. I don't feel like getting into Wiki-fights with those that would get annoyed by such a move. As far as I can tell the whole industry implementation is vaporware that might not ever be placed in service so re-doing the article before that investigative report hits the newsstands might be premature. Sturmovik (talk) 18:32, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, you probably would get in to a Wikifight. :) The "radio stuff" is relevant for people quickly wishing to know at least some details on how PTC things work, laid down in a single page they can steal for their homework assignment. In fact the page should be expanded to give details suitable for homework assignments, I think.
I don't think it's "vaporware," though, I see PTC implemented across the country and is working fine, the Northeast Corridor is being expanded along Long Island Rail Road with an overlay of -- hell, I can't recall the name. And Meteorcomm has been fielding software to Class 1s for about 5 years now. Wabtec has been using their Xorail acquisition to implement wayside and back-office systems which are integrated to PTC from GE/Harmon, among other places. Metrolink in California has been implementing PTC using Parsons Construction for their wayside and back-office systems, I found (by talking with Parsons about employment.)
It's "working" on the NEC between Perryville and Newark, DE, Trenton, NJ and New Brunswick, NJ and New Haven and Boston. The first two sections are basically straight shots with no major junctions and the latter is fairly busy, but not the highest density and sees no major through freight. Remember passenger trains have uniform braking profiles which through freight trains do not. Also ACSES makes minimal use of data radios, something the Class 1's thought would cost them more. Hell, NJT's flavor of ACSES will not use any wireless links at all. That's why all the radio stuff doesn't make sense here. PTC does not require digital radio links. That discussion should go on the specific implementation pages. Sturmovik (talk) 21:03, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
PTC is happening where funded, any way. Congressional dictates notwithstanding! TrainsOnTime (talk) 16:11, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Oh, Xorail doesn't have a Wikipedia page, neither does Meteorcomm. Xorail was subsumed in to Wabtec, so that makes sense, but Meteorcomm is the company that acquired AFar Radio and is the ITC-approved source of free software libraries and test packages for the majority interoperability communications. They should have a quick page, at least. TrainsOnTime (talk) 16:14, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

May 13, 2015 Philadelphia Amtrak accident[edit]

I came here in search of PTC info but one thing seems puzzling. Could someone explain why "expense" is being cited as the reason for this section of track to have been lacking PTC? If the train ITSELF had the required systems (as apparently it does, since it seems like other portions of the run WERE covered by PTC) then why wouldn't the expense of placing the required infrastructure to flag this one very sharp curve be trivial by comparison? What is really required here, in terms of equipping the TRAIN vs. equipping the TRACKS?? Thanks. -- Roricka (talk) 04:48, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

The equipment on the train is generally a flat rate package of electronics costing ~$50,000 (possibly double if that is per cab). The majority of the expense is getting it installed in the signaling system. In addition to hardware that has to be installed at every existing signaling location you need to install reliable data radios at every interlocking that are tied in to a central management system. All of that then has to be rigorously tested which can take months and cost even more money. Another huge hangup for Amtrak is that SEPTA and other railroads that use the NEC are not ACSES equipped and Amtrak can't deploy the system until they are. For SEPTA that would involve equipping 400 some odd railcars @ $50,000 (or more) each ($20 million total). SEPTA is currently broke and shutting down a major commuter rail operation is generally considered a non-starter. Finally PTC has a number of big operational problems that Amtrak has gone out of its way to avoid. It slows trains down beyond what is safe, it makes it difficult to perform station stops under certain conditions and reduces capacity in a number of other ways. When the system fails it creates additional headaches and the more places it is installed the more things will go wrong. Check out the ACSES page for specifics. Long story short accidents such as this are rare events and the hassle of trying to prevent them gums up railroad operations. Sturmovik (talk) 16:04, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
The thing of it is, though, is that the curve gradient wasn't all that sharp insofar as other curves in the line are, the Northeast Corridor has a number of curves much like this one.
In any event the cost depends upon which PTC technology one utilizes, there is inexpensive PTC which provides some minimal information and functionality to computer systems and in-cab engineers, and there is costly equipment that provides much more information, more computer control and oversight that watches the human behavior, it all depends upon what the railroad and FAA deem appropriate to address physical and economic circumstances.
Also Sturmovik is not at all correct when he suggests that PTC slows things down and causes problems, though he does note the ACSES technology developed by Alstom/Amtrak and Safetran/Siemens which which has greatly improved functionality in the Northeast Corridor. To the contrary, PTC improves speeds along railroad tracks, it allows the locomotive to see further in to the distance to determine track conditions, occupancy, workers scheduled along the wayside, numerous other things, which is why the second generation of ACSES is being implemented in the Long Island Railroad extension of the Northeast Corridor.
Also when PTC fails, far from "creating headaches" is drops to fail-safe conditions, railroad policy, practices, and procedures dictate that locomotives and consists drop to the maximum safe speed designated for the track in the absences of signals or other reasons why a track goes dark. PTC systems rarely fail, if they go off line gate arms come down and possibly trains slow down, yet that's the same behavior one has when PTC isn't employed. TrainsOnTime (talk) 16:19, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
It slows trains down because the existing speed limits already have a significant margin of safety built in so the engineer can exceed them by small amounts and still remain safe. With PTC such fluctuations over the posted limit will trigger an overspeed alarm with the result that crews will check their speed several mph below what is authorized. PTC does not increase capacity except possibly on low density lines that were previously not signaled. ACSES does not actually handle any sort of anti-colision duties. Those are covered by the legacy fixed block cab and wayside signaling system. On non-ACSES routes the PTC unit is attached to the wires leading to the wayside signal. If reliable enough this can provide the same functionality as cab signals, but at a far higher price point. Just because wireless data is involves does not mean PTC is the same as moving block or CTBC. Finally because of the reliance of wireless links, PTC systems are prone to disruption just like your cell phone or WiFi or digital TV signal. It is a whole raft of components, all with their own failure rates that will require contingency operations when they stop working. If those systems were never installed those instances of degraded operations caused by PTC and only PTC would never be encountered.Sturmovik (talk)

"The 2015 Philadelphia train derailment could have been prevented had positive train control been implemented.[41]" - This seems more like opinion than fact at the moment since the investigation has not concluded the cause of the crash. Attributing fault of the crash to a non-operational PTC system seems premature. Yadojado (talk) 20:07, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

I would stipulate that ACSES could have prevented the overspeed situation. Will ACSES save more than it costs is another matter entirely. Sturmovik (talk) 21:17, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

Trail 118 Derailment[edit]

FRA Statement about Civil Speed -- That is the FRA's summary statement noting that excess speed was the cause of 8 people's death, tens of millions of dollars in damaged infrastructure and private property, and numerous injuries because the locomotive and consist were progressing at 106 miles per hour when the maximum civil speed limit for that section of track is 50.

And why was the train going too fast? Human error coupled with a lack of automated mechanical oversight.

PTC / ACSES would have prevented these deaths and the destruction of hardware, so the commentary in the extant article noting that cost of PTC was a potential factor in the line not fielding PTC is not only almost certainly true, the positive expense of PTC roll-out along that line would have been mitigated by the negative cost of deaths, destruction, and reputation. (And tax-payer money is used for aftermath mitigation in all such incidents, money that is never factored in to determining the cost of incidents vs. the expense of technology that reduces or eliminates such incidents, likely because is tax-payers are an endless source of free money.)

The financial savings of rolling out PTC to afford higher safe maximum civil speeds must also be considered. ACSES Generation 1 fielded by Safetran along the Northeast Corridor permits greater speeds and higher passenger through-put which is factored in to corporate profit/loss calculations. The decision to field ACSES in the NEC was due to improved cost savings just as much as it was to improve commuter safety. Yet some less-informed, short-sighted among us would have us believe that the expense of PTC nationally exceeds its benefits. You don't see China, Japan, or European countries holding-off on infrastructure improvements by catering to those who think safety is too expensive.

The extant article makes numerous unfounded assumptions about the cost of rolling out PTC nationally, with references and citations that are not science-based, peer-reviewed sources, thus they remain opinion. Damotclese (talk) 18:15, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

I refer you to "Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 138 / Tuesday, July 21, 2009 / Proposed Rules" where the FRA's own assessment states that PTC is not economically justifiable. You can also just look at the basic facts. The last deadly PTC preventable accident on the NEC was in 1986. Not only is there the cost to install the equipment, but ongoing maintenance over 3 decades to save a sum total of 8 lives. I also refer you to Amtrak's own set of employee operating rules that documents the ways that ACSES degrades operational efficiency. If you have any "peer reviewed" studies that show otherwise you may link them here.Sturmovik (talk) 11:46, 16 October 2015 (UTC)

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I checked the links, they are alive. Strange that some of then went bad, but they were! Damotclese (talk) 03:01, 23 February 2016 (UTC)

Philadelphia Derailment Situational Awareness PTC[edit]

The Philadelphia derailment at 106MPH in a 50MPH civil seep zone was caused by the loss of sictuational awareness and the lack of PTC According To NTSB Described Here which seems like a suitable reference and citation as to the ways in which PTC are needed. The cost of deploying PTC for this is less than the cost of the fatalities and destruction of public and private property. TrainsOnTime (talk) 22:34, 24 May 2016 (UTC)

Yes, this was a significant event since it included fatalities, however we would not want to end up listing every locomotive fatality which could have been avoided by PTC. The article itself specifically mentions pTC so it's a suitable thing to note, from a usually reliable source. Damotclese (talk) 14:53, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
The important thing to cover in the article are not anecdotes, but statistics that look at overall accident rates and the cost effectiveness of the system.Sturmovik (talk) 16:38, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
The article is about Positive Train Control, it is not about how much money is saved by implementing PTC. We do not want to get bogged down in to the expense litigating 8 fatalities, a dozen injuries, and tens of millions of dollars of private and personal property whose combined costs added to tax dollars needed for the accident clean-up vastly exceeding the smaller cost of rolling out PTC along this line, that's not what the article is about.
If we wanted to dive in to the expense of accidents and the cost benefits of PTC, we would need to enumerate court costs, police officer time, rescue worker time, volunteer time, lost wages from injured and dead workers, life insurance pay-outs, the cascading plethora of expenses incurred by such accidents which PTC stops or mitigates.
Doing so would probably even constitute original research since an editor would have to collect the data, put it all together, else find an industry publication which may or may not be suitable reference to apply to the Wikipedia article. Not unless the NTSB has already laid it all out or until rail carriers are willing to publish their own research findings outside of the Board Room.
The cost of this one accident exceeded $100 million, and that's even before all of the families from the fatalities have completed their litigation cycles. But I don't think the article should get in to that, it's enough to note that PTC would have saved those lives and the cost to tax payers. TrainsOnTime (talk) 22:22, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
It's not original research as the topic had already been covered by the FRA and multiple news sources. I'm saving that this article should not just spout a bunch of anecdotes about which accidents could have been prevented by PTC. It should reference statistics about accidents prevented and lives saved per year. (Then people can better judge if it is worth the $15 billion cost.) Getting into specific accidents (apart from the Chatsworth wreck that prompted the legislation) means also mentioning the ones that would not be preventable by PTC and then the article is just a list of accidents.Sturmovik (talk) 11:22, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
Yes, (talk), I agree. The NTSB findings specifically note that PTC would have stopped this accident -- despite (talk) wanting to pretend their scientific, official, researched findings are "anecdotes" -- yet if we were to list every accident that scientists working for NTSB notes would not have happened, we would end up being a list. :) Which isn't what the article is about. Damotclese (talk) 15:28, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
Looking at his history, he appears to be an anti-PTC bigot, not actually concerned with improving the quality of the article here, yes. TrainsOnTime (talk) 23:11, 28 May 2016 (UTC)