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2012 MATC Fall Lecture Series: Robert Kollmar
2012 MATC Fall Lecture Series
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It's my pleasure to introduce Bob Kollmar.
He has 37, a wide range of experience,
37 years in the railway industry.
He's currently Executive Director
of Engineering, Communications, and Train Control
at the Association of American Railroads.
He's worked as Chief Engineering Officer
for the New Orleans Public Railroad.
He's worked at Amtrak as General Superintendent
for West Operations and V.P. for Engineering Initiatives
and Strategic Planning.
We were talking earlier, it's probably one
of the most varied backgrounds in the rail industry,
from finance to strategic planning
to operations and engineering.
So I think he's gonna give us a lot of good insight today.
has a bachelor's of science in civil engineering
from Tri-State University, which is now Trine University,
I guess, what four or five years ago
they changed their name.
And he's also worked, got some academic experience
at Drexel University on his finance side of things.
So, Bob, we're happy to have you here today,
and we look forward to your talk, thanks.
I'd like to thank everyone for attending.
Thank you, Dr. Larry, for putting this on.
What a wonderful forum this is,
for all of us to be able to exchange ideas.
And that's what we'd like to do today, just have some fun.
Gonna try to talk about three different things primarily.
The first is the alphabet soup in Washington,
and try to get some of the different associations,
and what it is that we do, and why we do what we do.
Gonna talk a little bit about the Association
of American Railroads, and then we're gonna talk
about positive train control.
So, sit back and enjoy the trip with us.
♫ I cross many rivers and highways
♫ Over mountains, shore to shore
♫ Yeah, I carry the nation on my back
♫ And if they ask me, I'll carry more
♫ Get your rides on America's freight rail
♫ Every hour of every day
♫ Working to build a dream
♫ Behind the scenes in the scenery
♫ I know how much it means
♫ Get your rides on America's freight rail
Freight rail is America's economic workhorse,
and America's freight rail companies plan to spend
$23 billion of their own money this year alone,
not taxpayer's money, to move our economy.
Find out more at freightrailworks.org.
I've seen that a thousand times,
and every time it excites me.
So it's really a delight to be able to share it with you.
Well, let's talk about, what is the difference
between a railroad, APTA, FRA,
NTSB, AREMA, and the AAR?
They're several different, yet interrelated organizations,
which provide a myriad of different services
to the railroad industry.
We're gonna teach a little bit today about the differences
between standards, specifications, recommended practices,
established and enforced regulations regarding train speeds,
track, signals, grade crossings, and inspections.
Who provides fines for non-compliance?
Who maintains interchange data for all railroads,
and notifies railroads about non-compliant freight cars?
Who investigates accidents and makes safety recommendations?
Who provides technical recommendations
and standard plans for railroads?
Who serves as the advocacy organization
for the freight rail industry?
And then we're gonna talk a little bit about talent base
of active railroad managers.
A railroad, what is it a railroad does?
Its mission is to provide safe and efficient transportation
at a reasonable cost.
Their mission is also to develop customers,
to service on-line industry, to interchange
or exchange freight cars with other railroads.
They have to work with stakeholders to develop
economic growth throughout their corridors,
and throughout the United States.
They develop their own standards and recommended practices,
or they use industry recommended practices
within their systems.
And, their managers that we're gonna talk about today
also volunteer to serve on AAR and AREMA committees,
whatever they are.
And also, a railroad makes money.
That's the key difference between a railroad,
and everyone else.
Some folks have heard of APTA,
the American Public Transportation Administration,
the association in Washington.
Its vision statement says they are the leading force
in advancing public transportation.
But their mission is to strengthen and support,
and improve public transportation.
APTA serves and leads its diverse membership
through advocacy, innovation, and information sharing.
And its members work to ensure that public transportation
is available and accessible for all Americans
in communities throughout the country.
So APTA primarily deals with public transit
and public transportation.
The Federal Railroad Administration, or the FRA,
they're entrusted to promulgate and enforce
rail safety regulations.
They administer railroad assistance programs,
that's financial assistance.
They conduct research and development
in support of improved railroad safety,
and a national railroad transportation policy.
They fund the Northeast Corridor passenger service,
and they consolidate government support
of many rail transportation activities.
They are headquartered in Washington, D.C.,
and they have offices strategically placed
throughout the United States.
They are a part of the United States
Department of Transportation.
The National Transportation Safety Board.
Now sometimes you hear their name mentioned
whenever there's a large disaster, a safety issue.
But they are charged with investigating
every civil aviation accident in the United States,
and especially significant accidents
in other modes of transportation.
With us, it's railroad, so when we have
a major passenger train derailment,
or even a major freight train derailment,
they will be involved in helping determine
the probable cause of the accident, and issue,
they will issue a safety recommendation
aimed at preventing future accidents.
They are also headquartered in Washington, D.C.,
with offices throughout the United States,
and they are an independent federal agency.
We all heard of AREMA.
AREMA is the American Railway Engineering
and Maintenance-of-Way Association.
What are they?
They're charged with the development and advancement
of both technical and practical knowledge,
and recommended practices, pertaining to the design,
construction, and maintenance of railway infrastructure,
a very, very important group.
They also develop and maintain
volumes of recommended practices,
which I encourage you to take a look at.
Also, they develop a portfolio of standard plans,
and those plans really deal with track work
and railroad infrastructure.
The technical committees are comprised
of the entire railroad industry,
managers, suppliers, consultants, and academia.
And I urge you, if you become a member
of a railroad industry profession, no matter what it is,
you will be a part of one of these committees.
And it's up to you to determine
which committee you wanna be a part of.
It's wide-ranging, and I know you'll have fun.
We need your expertise.
I work for the Association of American Railroads.
We are an independent trade association.
We are not associated with the government.
I'm not a government employee.
Our customers are the seven Class One railroads,
Amtrak, and over 200 smaller freight railroads
and commuter railroads.
So we service those railroads, they are our customers.
We work with elected officials and leaders in Washington,
D.C., on critical transportation and related issues.
We ensure that the freight rail industry
will continue to meet America's transportation needs
today and tomorrow, and we see nothing
but unparalleled growth in the freight rail industry.
It's exploding, and it will continue to explode
in the foreseeable future.
We establish the standards for North America's
railroads, rolling stock, both freight cars and locomotives,
and technology and network operations.
So that's one of the questions that we had at the beginning.
Who establishes the standards
for freight cars and locomotives?
We also focus on improving the safety and productivity
of rail transportation throughout our own initiatives,
in cooperation with FRA and other associations.
So yes, we work with all of our railroads.
We work with the NTSB, we work with the FRA,
we work with APTA, and we work with AREMA.
So it's one big, one-stop shopping place.
Let's talk about the other portions of our association.
To advance these goals, we use two subsidiaries.
The Transportation Technology Center,
which is located in Pueblo, Colorado.
We're gonna learn a little bit about that in a minute.
TTCI, the Transportation Technology Center,
is the world's leading research and development
testing facility, and we develop the next generation
of advancements in safety and operation efficiency.
Rail link, our other subsidiary,
serves as the rail industry's leading resource
for rail data, information technology,
and information services, and uses one of the largest
data networks to track customer shipments.
So if you can imagine all of the freight cars
that interchange throughout the United States,
every day continuously, we manage that data.
The AAR also supports the Railroad Research Foundation.
It is a world-class policy research organization,
dedicated to sustaining a safe and secure
technologically advanced rail network.
So we have plenty of opportunities.
Between these three organizations,
I think there's about 500 people.
The Safety and Operations Management Committee
is a part of the AAR.
We look across the top in the slightly shaded boxes.
You can see there are a number of managerial committees,
and these deal primarily with locomotives and freight cars.
There's technical oversight, risk management,
business services, railroad security, Railinc.
And then we have this one in the middle
called Interoperable Operations Working Committee.
Most of those committees I support,
and these are the, all of the railroad electronics
associated with the railroad industry,
whether it be wireless communication,
or the data assimilation for moving trains,
railroad signaling, communications and train control,
and then we also have one other committee,
Positive Train Control Policy.
All of our members, railroad,
and also vendor community and suppliers,
make up these committees.
They work together collaboratively
to continue the research that's done,
and to continue to make our industry better
and safer every day.
In, I'd say in these committees,
there's probably about a membership of 1,000.
So we welcome you also, if you're a member of a railroad,
we hope that you will participate on these.
You'll be selected by your managers to work on these.
Let's talk a little bit about TTCI.
This is the world's premiere facility
for rail research and testing.
This is where the railroads spur innovation.
Ready for a brake test anytime.
This is where the industry boosts safety,
reliability, and efficiency.
This is TTCI.
The Transportation Technology Center, Inc., TTCI,
is located on the open prairie in Pueblo, Colorado.
TTCI is a huge facility, it's about 52 square miles.
It's about five miles wide and 10 miles long.
We've got about 48 miles of track, and a number
of different laboratories.
TTCI is a unique public-private partnership.
The facility is owned by the Federal
Railroad Administration, and TTCI is in turn
a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Association
of American Railroads.
TTCI is perhaps best known for its research
and testing on freight rail technology.
In the facility's two main laboratories,
the component test lab and the rail dynamics lab,
engineers use one of a kind test machines.
These machines simulate the stresses
of long-time train operations in very short periods of time.
It's trying to push the components to their limits,
in a safe environment in the lab,
before they every go out onto the rails.
With testing in these labs,
customers receive data on the durability of components
in weeks instead of years.
And those time savings translate to gains
in reliability and safety.
All the work that we do focuses on making
the railroads much safer.
Anything that we can do to prevent derailments
is definitely something that we love to do.
In the rail dynamics lab,
engineers can also test entire freight cars,
not just their components.
Huge 200-ton cranes move the cars right onto a machine,
called the vibration test unit.
You can put the entire car body on it,
and then run it through the paces
of its dynamic environment in real life.
All set to go.
TTCI takes freight rail testing
onto the tracks, with the instrumented freight car.
It's a performance-based tracking station,
and when it rides over a piece of track,
it tells us about the track condition.
So if there's any track location that requires
maintenance to attend the train,
then engineers and maintenance personnel
will be notified about it.
This kind of track testing
can be done at TTCI, or on a customer's railroad.
And looking forward, TTCI is working with the railroads
to test and perfect positive train control.
PTC systems aim to use digital radio signals
and computer programs to automatically stop trains
when human error threatens a crash.
What we have done here at TTCI is to build
a simulated PTC system, where we actually have
three real locomotives equipped with PTC,
to see how well they will operate in a stressed environment.
It's this kind of technology,
and the engineering talent behind it,
that keeps major customers returning to TTCI.
Customers like TTX, North America's leading
provider of rail cars.
We come to TTCI to test our cars in controlled
track conditions to evaluate performance of our cars.
We have a large fleet, and improvements in our performance
translate to cost savings for TTX and our owners.
TTCI also does passenger rail
research and testing.
In fact, its roots are in high-speed
passenger train research.
In the early 1970s, the site was known
as the High-Speed Ground Test Center.
In the late 1990s, TTCI tested Amtrak's
high-speed Acela train, logging tens of thousands
of miles on its test tracks.
And TTCI continues to requalify the Acela's performance
once a year.
Today, an important focus in TTCI's passenger rail research,
and in freight as well, are crash-worthy cars,
designed to protect riders and crew.
We had six sensors on the car, we had two video cameras.
That moves 40 miles an hour!
Crash energy management systems are intended
to dissipate the energy involved in a crash.
The forces involved when the car hits the barrier
can be in the millions of pounds.
Standards for improved crash-worthiness for passenger cars
came out of this work.
FAST, it's where some of TTCI's
most advanced testing takes place.
FAST is the Facility for Accelerated Service Testing,
and the name really says it all.
The facility gives us a place where we can test
rail and track components in an accelerated manner,
over a 2.70 mile loop.
And around that loop at FAST
are arranged some of the world's most cutting-edge
track side detectors.
The railroad industry really has made
a tremendous leap forward, it's a game-changer
to have these wayside devices out on the track.
Railroads can essentially perform a CAT scan
of the cars, online without ever removing
the cars from service.
FAST offers a unique environment
for controlled, repeatable, and secure testing
of railway components.
That's measurement frames there...
Railroads and suppliers from around the world
bring their innovative technology here
for developing and testing.
At a different TTCI test site,
a track side detector showing great promise
uses ultrasonic technology to find
internal flaws in rail wheels.
And the U-Rail system is a detector on the move.
It uses high-energy lasers to generate ultrasonic signals
that inspect rails for hidden flaws.
With its technology, its people, and its mission,
TTCI is System activated.
Where the future of rail is being written.
There are things being done here nobody else is doing.
As far as freight technology is concerned,
we have the leaders in the world.
I just see this place as being the hotbed of research
for the rail industry for the next 50 to 100 years to come.
Many of you, if you decide
to join the rail industry, will ultimately want to go
to TTCI to take a look and visit and participate
and share in the research.
Almost everything that you've seen,
including what we're gonna talk about next,
did not exist when I started my railroad career.
So the wisdom and knowledge of the senior people
that are there will be departing,
and we need young people to fill in this gap.
And we know that we have many, many bright people
who are going to do that.
Let's take a few minutes and talk
about the largest initiative in the railroad industry today,
and it's called positive train control.
And let's, it's gonna take a few minutes,
but let's walk through it, and I think
it will clearly explain what it is that we're trying to do,
which is unparalleled in transportation.
Positive train control is an automated,
highly complex system, which provides
the following features.
It is a communication-based system
of functional requirements
for monitoring and controlling train movements
to provide increased safety.
The system will prevent train-to-train collisions,
whether they are overtake, train following another train,
head-on, head-on collision, or converging,
two trains from the side.
It will prevent trains from exceeding speed limits,
whether they be permanent speed limits,
due to the train type, one train can go
faster than the other.
The track geometry, which is a curve,
or through a turnout or a switch
from one track to another.
It will also enforce temporary speed limits.
And this could be for a track gang,
a maintenance of way slow order,
where we slow the track down to do construction.
And it will prevent incursions into maintenance work zones,
so that an employee who's on the railroad
can no longer be at risk by a train
that should have stopped but didn't stop.
Some positive train control systems
have the ability to do grade crossings pre-start
and health monitoring, but not the system
that we're gonna talk about today.
What is it?
Well, it's three components, and we'll get into each
of these just a little bit,
but I wanted to give an overview.
The three components are the office segment,
which is like the train dispatcher and that crowd.
There's the wayside segment, which is the physical signal
location or switch location throughout the United States.
And also the locomotive segment,
so there's three parts, and they communicate wirelessly.
Interoperable-Electronic Train Management System, or I-ETMS.
This is the positive train control system
that the freight carriers have elected to install.
It is an overlay train control system
to the nation's freight railroad existing signal system.
It is designed to prevent the collisions,
over-speed, civil speed enforcement, roadway workers.
And it uses unique braking algorithms
for both passenger trains and freight trains,
'cause they brake differently.
Long coal trains that we see brake differently
than the fast intermodal trains.
So they all have different braking algorithms,
and all of these were created by industry,
with a lot of the work being done, of course, at TTCI.
It is a GPS based system, and this system
does not use transponders.
The office system, the back office server,
is associated with the train dispatch centers.
It must authenticate all of the servers,
all of the systems and personnel who are using the system.
It is an, it interfaces with numerous enhancements
to the train dispatching system.
It provides security application for message integrity.
And we're gonna talking about the messaging.
Just imagine the millions of messages that are gonna
go on constantly, that have to be secure,
so that no one can hack into it.
It also provides an interoperable train control
messaging system, we're gonna talk about that.
And we've developed a brand new 220 MegaHertz data radio
for base communication.
We communicate switching network and interoperable
back office communications, all of this is brand new.
We're gonna talk about the wayside locations
where we saw those little signals.
This system will tell us what position each turnout is in,
whether it's normal or reverse.
We have both integrated and stand-alone
Wayside Interface Units.
We have wayside database data network now,
which contains over 200 characteristics
of track and trackside assets,
and this has been over 500,000 points
throughout the railroad system that have been integrated
into this master database.
The wayside system also uses this brand new
220 MegaHertz data radio, for both switch
and signal communication.
On the locomotive side, we have a train management computer.
This is an interactive display,
and we'll show a picture of this.
We have, as a part of the train management system,
brand new software that was just developed.
We also have a 200 MegaHertz data radio for each locomotive.
And onboard the locomotive, we have these computer
display units, GPS sensors, crash hardened memory module,
and this brand new antenna array for all data transmissions.
None of this existed a few years ago.
I'm not gonna get into the real specifics,
but if you can look at this and just imagine
that all of this stuff is now new,
and it's onboard the locomotive.
So all of these new boxes had to be created.
All of them are integrated and tied in.
And all of them have to work together on the locomotive,
plus communicate with the back office,
plus communicate with the wayside signaling system.
This is one of the boxes that's onboard,
or the Electronic Train Management Computer.
It tells a little bit about all the good stuff there,
it has wires that go in and out,
and it's really one of the brains of the operation.
But it's crash hardened, and it's made
for a rough industrial environment.
On the locomotive segment, there's a whole array
of different boxes that we have,
all these brand new computer things.
Data radio, the train management computer,
and by God, we have to be able to talk
to the locomotive engineer, so we had to develop
a new locomotive engineer display unit.
Inside the locomotive, the FRA has said that all members
of the train crew will have an unobstructed
view of the screen.
So if you have people on both sides of the locomotive,
they either have to be able to see one screen,
or we have to put in two screens.
The Locomotive Interface Gateway, another new brain
that was recently developed, provides integration
of PTC functionality to over 30 different existing
This is all done through RF.
There are 18,000 locomotives which have to be equipped.
All of these locomotives have to come out of the pool,
and they have to go back in the pool, at least twice.
18,000 locomotives represents approximately 75%
of the mainline operating fleet throughout the nation.
4,000 installations have been started.
And if you can imagine, with all these locomotives,
about 1700 miles of wire have to be installed
and correctly configured.
This is what a locomotive engineer sees
when he or she sits down at the cab.
The seat is just directly in front of us.
On the right hand side, that's kind of like
the display that they look at that says how fast
am I going, and a little bit more
about what my locomotive does.
The center screen also is one of the operational displays
that tells about the locomotive itself.
The blue thing that you see in the lower,
that's like the gas pedal.
And then, on the left hand side
is this new positive train control locomotive display
that the engineer is gonna look at.
Yeah, those buttons on the front,
they're the horn and that kind of stuff, also.
This is a little bit about that cab display unit
that we talked about, it has a lot of information built in.
It is interactive with the locomotive engineer,
and there's gonna be a lot of training required,
because this is a new box on the locomotive.
This is what the locomotive engineer is going to see.
Up at the top, you can see, we'll talk a little bit
about it for a minute.
It says 32 miles an hour, that's how fast
the train is going.
The maximum authorized speed is 49 miles an hour.
If you look on the left hand side, you'll see
that white series of boxes, that's the train.
The train is at milepost 17.
You can see the nose of the train
on the right of the little boxes,
and it's proceeding towards milepost 18.
It's slightly downhill right now,
it's gonna be going uphill, and then it has
a long downgrade to the right hand side of the screen.
You'll see these two lines in front of the locomotive.
The one is, the first red line
is where the locomotive must stop if it has a problem.
The next yellow line is kind of like a warning message
that's going to be given to the locomotive engineer.
So the locomotive engineer will be able to see
the railroad that's in front of them,
what it looks like, where they are
with respect to the railroad.
You can see that green and yellow and red bar,
that's actually what the track structure looks like
in front of him, and you can see the signal.
You can see the siding, and the siding
has a red bar on it, might be occupied by a train.
And then the green bar is where they're gonna operate.
So there's a lot of information that's conveyed
to the locomotive engineer, and this is what PTC does.
Now, the locomotive engineer is always in charge
of their train, they can always operate it.
But if they're incapacitated, or they fail to react
to a warning, PTC will issue a brake enforcement,
and it will stop the train.
If the train gets too close to another train, it'll stop.
If the train is entering a curve at a high rate of speed,
it will stop.
If the train enters a work authority, it will stop
before it gets there.
All of these things are predictive, and will happen
before the train enters a restricted area.
This is some of the things that we do
in the railroad industry for ourselves.
This is a radio spectrum analysis of Chicago.
On the right hand side is Lake Michigan.
On the left hand side is
throughout the metropolitan area of Chicago.
You can see these little black spots in the middle
of each of those red zones, those are antennas.
The red field are the largest propagation
of our radio frequencies.
And then the yellow areas, it gets less complex,
and the green, finally it reaches the white area,
where we don't have any radio coverage.
If one can imagine the millions and millions
of transmissions that are gonna have to occur,
many of them simultaneously, that we can't interfere
with the myriad, the thousands of trains
that operate in Chicago.
25% of the nation's traffic, freight traffic
moves through Chicago on a daily basis.
So we had to come up with a new radio system
that allowed us not only to communicate
with voice communication, which is separate
from the positive train control.
So no matter what you're into, if you're into radios,
or if you're into marketing or logistics or whatever,
we have a role for you in the railroad industry.
Well, we talked a lot about the complexities of it,
but how complex is it?
The first sentence says it all.
It is the most expensive and technically
complex initiative in railroad history.
75% of all of the locomotives, mainline locomotives
will be equipped.
1,700 miles of new locomotive wiring has to be installed.
96,000 miles of railroad tracks must be equipped
with positive train control.
And we have mapped about half a million wayside elements.
A wayside element is the beginning of a bridge,
the beginning of a curve, the location of a turnout,
a grade crossing.
Anything associated with the railroad has been mapped.
50,000 wayside units, that's these communication units
at each signal will have to be installed.
About 150,000 people,
or 75% of the entire railroad
employment service today, will receive training
on this complex system.
If one can imagine, it's not just the locomotive engineer
that has to be trained on how to operate
positive train control.
We need our signal maintainers, their supervisors.
We need the people who maintain the locomotives.
We need the people who work on the tracks.
All of their supervision, train dispatchers,
all of these people have to understand the system
before we turn it on.
Today, it's about an $8 billion initiative,
and one of the interesting things about it,
because it's mandated by Congress, this initiative
must be internally funded by each of the freight railroads.
There is no federal money or state money being given
to any of the railroads for PTC.
Commuter railroads are receiving some government funding.
So it's what we call an unfunded mandate.
You will do this, and you will have it done,
and you will pay for it, and you'll have to find the money.
Now, the hard part.
PTC is a new technology.
Yes, there's one PTC system in Michigan,
that's been in existence for 10 years.
It was basically developed for Amtrak.
I happened to be project manager on that project.
It's worked successfully for 10 years.
I'm very proud of it, but it is a new technology.
New nationwide standards are being developed
by all of the people that you saw
on these committees earlier.
It's members of the railroad industry
that are developing these nationwide standards.
The freight application is well underway.
Locomotives are having the equipment installed.
Thousands of wayside signal system appliances
have been installed.
Train dispatching computer systems are being modified,
and normally, each railroad can do their own thing.
Burlington Northern can do what they want on their railroad.
Union Pacific can do what they want.
Canadian National can do what they want.
But, now this system has to be interoperable
between all of the railroads.
So even though the locomotives must be fully capable
of operating on their own railroad,
now they have to be absolutely completely capable
of operating on everybody else's railroad.
This is what we call interoperability,
or remember the I-ETMS.
Commuter railroads also operate
across freight railroad tracks.
So they have to be interoperable
with the freight railroads that they run on.
And if one can imagine that you have to know
where every piece of equipment is, all the time,
what version of software and hardware has been installed,
what version of software wants to be installed.
We have to be able to manage the configuration
of millions of pieces of equipment.
Each railroad is working diligently
to install PTC on their own systems.
The railroad industry has had to retain
specialized employees, and have hired thousands
of new employees and contractors
to assist with this deployment.
Manufacturing of wayside, locomotive, and back office
equipment is proceeding to support installation.
And each locomotive, wayside installation, and back office
needs to have a completely new communications infrastructure
developed from scratch.
This must be completed, by law, by December 31st, 2015.
It is a monumental undertaking.
I think that there will be some relief.
We are hoping that's the case for a couple years.
It may be one year at a time.
But we are proceeding today as if it must be done,
and of course, it's not done yet.
This is an unfunded mandate.
The common principle is find your own money and get it done.
And so, I have two summary slides.
About, on the technical side,
honestly, you know, I've worked in the industry
for 37 years.
The industry has devoted the best and the brightest
to this effort, thousands of employees,
not only from the railroads but with support
from manufacturers and consultants,
in helping to make this initiative.
To install it, to test it and make sure it works.
To maintain it, it is extremely complex.
It is a simultaneous undertaking
by the entire railroad industry.
The railroads are fierce competitors,
but absolutely cooperate in a manner
unprecedented, I think, in the United States.
It involves all the major railroads,
all the commuter railroads, the authorities,
and some smaller railroads.
And it requires billions of dollars
of railroad funded investment.
Now, my challenge to you.
We need talented people.
We cannot do these things on our own.
The Class One freight railroads need talented people,
regional railroads need talented people,
short lines and terminal companies, commuter rail agencies,
Amtrak, consultants, manufacturers, suppliers.
We can't do it without good people.
I want to encourage undergrads and grad students to explore
a myriad of technically and financially challenging
opportunities in the railroad industry.
It doesn't matter if you are interested in radios,
you're interested in logistics,
you're interested in marketing.
You have a degree in law, doesn't make any difference.
We need all of these people.
We have a lot of people like me, a little older,
looking forward to retirement.
There's gonna be a lot of, yeah, I'm real old.
Lot of opportunity for people to take our place.
And lo and behold, you know,
you can have a good career, these are good jobs.
They pay well, they have great benefits.
And you will be exposed to and experience more things
in many diverse areas than you ever thought possible.
For those that decide to join the rail industry,
I promise you that whatever you think you're gonna do,
you will start, you will end up somewhere else,
you will do something that you never thought possible.
I think my career is, starting out as a civil
and doing all this stuff that I don't know or understand,
is a good testament to the fact that you can have
a really, really wonderful career.
So I hope that I've encouraged you to take a hard look
at this industry, it, as one of my friends says,
it takes a ton of technology to move a ton of freight.
And it's true, and we're doing a better job that we ever.
It's a great industry, please take a look at it
in your careers, and we welcome you aboard with open arms.
Dr. Larry, thank you.
That's great, thank you.
Alright, do we have any questions
from the audience, either online or here in person?
Don't be shy.
Not all at once.
I have a question about train active warning system.
Right now, on the track,
the track, the active warning system
is using the track circuit to get the train.
So I wondered, after the positive train control
system is being used,
how to integrate the new system
to the traditional warning system,
and are they using together, or,
and is there a transition period,
to test these two systems?
Let me try to answer that as good as I can.
There will be, and always will be,
an existing signal system.
The positive train control system is going to be,
I call it icing on the cake.
It's gonna be an overlay system to the cake.
It's gonna be icing around the cake.
Positive train control system will use the existing
signal system as its roots.
So that technology will always be there.
PTC will take that technology,
and predict where the train is going to be.
So it, and it will, through that prediction,
it will enforce a safe stop, if a train is going to exceed.
Today, there aren't many ways that we can stop a train
before it reaches a stop sign or stop signal.
But positive train control will allow us
to predict where that train is going to be,
if that train is going to stop in time,
and we will enforce braking so the train does stop in time.
Okay, that, does that answer your first question?
And I wanna make sure that I address your second one.
And the second one is...
The second one is,
is there a transition period that, to test this new system?
Yes, but that's a good question.
How do we transition this?
Each railroad has divided their railroad
into smaller segments, we call them subdivisions.
And they can be 100 miles long,
or they can be several hundred miles long,
depending on the complexity of the individual railroad.
Each railroad will go out and they'll make sure
that an individual interlocking, the switches and signals
or an intermediate location, works.
And they'll test it and test it and test it,
then they'll take a small subdivision,
and they'll turn it all on and make sure that it works.
The difficult part is, you can imagine, an employee
comes out, is operating this big, heavy train
over a long distance, and they see the normal,
regular signal system that they've seen
for the last 20 years.
Then, we turn on this other switch.
Now we've got this new box on the locomotive
that's telling them all kinds of stuff.
So there will be kind of a burn-in period, okay,
for each person to see, and then at some point,
we'll make the decision on a railroad by railroad basis,
and a subdivision basis, to throw the switch.
And then, from that point on,
positive train control is gonna control the trains.
So that's an excellent question.
I would imagine that there are going to be
in the neighborhood of maybe 500 of these times,
that we have different burn-ins
throughout the United States.
There are 50,000 locations which have to be tested
before we can start turning on a subdivision.
So yes, there's two parts to that.
One is the technical and the other is the human part.
So it's an excellent question, and it's gonna take
some time to do it, and we still have to have it done
in a very short period of time
with many, many thousands of people.
Excellent question, thank you, thank you.
I'd like to ask a followup question,
if I could, on that.
So I understand about the trains being in communication
with each other, but is there gonna be an ability
to see that there's something stuck on the tracks,
at a grade crossing, would this technology,
do you see that as being part of it?
I mean, we just had that accident in West Texas,
as an example.
Positive train control is not designed
in this rollout to detect a vehicle stuck on the track.
It is not intended to do that.
This is intended to keep trains
from running into each other.
Of course, what we're always trying to do
is to educate the public, and tell them that, you know,
don't drive through the gates,
don't drive around the gates.
And be careful when you're operating a motor vehicle
over a grade crossing.
The other thing that we're also trying to do is to eliminate
grade crossings, and trying to provide
better warning protection, and warning devices
at each grade crossing,
as well as enforcing the rules,
and there has to be a penalty for someone
who drives around the gates.
But in answer to your question,
positive train control is not, this rollout,
does not address a vehicle stuck on the track.
And just a followup on that.
It would seem to me that, you know,
with all this technology we have, with smartphones
and that, that there'd be an app for that.
Do you see that as being something that's coming in,
where you would allow this kind of information
to go to commercial vehicle operators,
trucks, school buses, ambulances,
that would know when there's a vehicle, or I'm sorry,
a train coming into the vicinity
of that grade railroad crossing?
It's an excellent question.
We were talking about this morning,
there is an effort underway
with both the Federal Highway Administration
and the Federal Railroad Administration
to look at exactly that.
It's still in the discovery, the concept period.
By no means has it started to roll out,
or any kind of further definition been provided.
But what I ultimately think will happen
is that the grade crossing will broadcast a message
to a unit inside a vehicle.
And it's like, you know,
the car that, your seat vibrates when you back up.
Some sort of a message will be given,
whether it's a visual message, and a visual audio,
or whatever that might be, that a train
is approaching the crossing and you're getting too close,
and you better brake.
I predict something like that will happen in the future.
I had a quick question regarding the control.
So the only control then right now is stopping the train,
or is it possible to slow down the train or change it?
You know, is it just stop, or...
That's a good question.
You remember the red line and the yellow line?
We always want the locomotive engineer to be responsible
to operate their train.
If for some reason, they're incapacitated,
the yellow line gives that warning to the train crew
that there's a problem and you'd better pay attention
and do something.
The red line is, if they do nothing, the train will stop.
So by providing not only the information on the screen
that we saw,
so that's kind of like, here's where we are,
here's where we're going.
Maintain control of your train the right way.
Just provides more information to the locomotive engineer.
The yellow line that we saw provides a warning,
so that they can be proactive and do something
before the brake enforcement comes in.
The last resort, absolute last resort
is the brake enforcement.
We always want the locomotive engineer
to be in control of his or her train.
I have a quick question.
How does one get an internship or a tour,
or what's the best way?
If there's a student that says, you know,
I really would like to see this facility.
What's the best way to get in contact with them,
or to look at internship options,
or do they do that kind of thing?
I'm sure that TTCI would always entertain internships.
It's kind of a tough place to get to.
We deliberately, we.
Like the federal government and the AAR.
This place is positioned in the middle of nowhere,
We don't want prying eyes driving out there
and looking at things, and frankly,
some of the things that we do are for customers,
and they don't want prying eyes.
So it's a difficult place to get to.
But yes, I know that they would value internships.
I'm sure by contacting TTCI,
and we can provide that information.
The other thing, folks, is that I really encourage you
to look at the different railroads,
different commuter rail authorities,
the passenger agencies.
Also, if you're interested in the manufacturing
or design of these things, consultants offer internships,
manufacturers offer internships, and railroads do.
So the entire industry, we need talent.
And it depends on company by company,
but I'm sure that we would embrace an intern.
Tough jobs, tough jobs, good jobs.
Are there any other questions?
Just one more question
on the positive train control, actually two.
So the first one, it's a pretty big undertaking.
Who owns the intellectual, is this like open source,
is this, does someone actually own
the intellectual property, do they sell it
to other countries or other things like that?
And then the second one, sort of the related,
who has the liability on this side of things?
If something doesn't go quite right with the,
because it obviously is a very complex system.
The railroads, two parts to that.
Yes, there is intellectual property that's developed.
It's Wabtec that has and owns the box
that they are manufacturing.
These are developed to a standard.
Same thing on the other side, the radio communication,
there's proprietary information there.
I don't see it, I don't wanna see it,
don't wanna know what's in it.
They own it, they can sell it.
The railroads are also involved in the fact
that they help create the standards,
so that if you wanted to open up a company,
you certainly can do that.
All you have to do is design
and build your system to those standards.
So it's open architecture from the standpoint of,
yes, you have the right to compete,
and the standards and specifications are open for all,
but yeah, you can believe that they have a lot
of investment made in these, a lot of these boxes
that you see, and the same thing
with the locomotive suppliers, the same thing
with other signal equipment suppliers.
A lot of I-P is out there.
We have a question from the online audience.
Curious if they hire international students
as well as permanent residents and U.S. citizens.
Good question, I can't answer it.
I think it's on a company by company basis.
But I'd certainly ask them, you know.
I've never known them to turn any talented individual away.
We need talent.
Okay, and one final question is how
is cybersecurity handled, you know,
obviously all radio transmission.
You know, if the box is open source
and the architecture is standard,
how is that being addressed by the railroad industry?
I see a number of different opportunities
for terrorism and those kind of things
with this environment.
Yeah, the cybersecurity is a big deal.
We actually have a real supersecret network of communication
that goes on between the railroads.
When a railroad is hacked or whatever, everyone is notified.
I know that there are encrypted messages
that are gonna be a part of this whole PTC process.
If I tried to hack in, I couldn't.
I don't think there's a way,
I don't think it's worth trying.
Certainly is not a research opportunity for someone
to try to hack in.
We have some of the best and the brightest security people
who have been assigned to this, and I'm absolutely convinced
that no one's ever gonna be able to hack in.
They've done a wonderful job
of creating this source,
and it's created in such a way that
you'd waste a lot of time trying to even entertain
trying to hack into it.
I hope that answers it a little bit,
but yeah, it's pretty secret stuff, pretty high-tech.
Well, then, yeah.
Alright, does anybody have any other questions?
Alright, well, I'll turn it over to Larry to close it out.
Well, thanks, Bob, I appreciate that a lot.
I think everyone enjoyed your talk.
For the folks in Nebraska, we're gonna have a dinner
and you have a lunch, and you'll have a chance
to ask other questions. Sure.
And to do some followup stuff.
But again, thank you very much for coming out here
and showing this stuff, it was very interesting.
It's been a delight.
This is a wonderful forum that you have.
It simply, I'm not aware that it exists anywhere else,
so, I know the railroad industry, and I'm sure
a lot of different industries appreciate
just the opportunity to share some thoughts,
and to encourage people to join us.
Thank you, thank you so much.
The screen size you are trying to search captions on is too small!
You can always
jump over to MediaHub
and check it out there.
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