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5/2/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

FRA adds mapping software to crossing-problem notification system


Federal Railroad Administration May 2 selected research and information-technology firm ENSCO Inc. to add Geographical Information System (GIS) capability to FRA's toll-free 1-800 Emergency Notification System (ENS) program, a trouble-reporting system for highway-rail crossings.
ENSCO's software would help dispatchers avoid train collisions by locating potential crossing hazards — such as a stalled automobile, flat-bed truck or hazardous materials-carrying vehicle — on a GIS map-display and referencing the hazard's relationship to nearby schools, hospitals or other landmarks.
The software also would generate reports on crossing problems, such as stalled vehicles, gates or warning-light malfunctions, or a broken gate arm.
FRA plans to offer ENSCO's software to states and railroads at no cost.
FRA, which developed the 1-800 ENS program in response to 1994 national legislation, implemented pilot programs in Texas in 1999 and Pennsylvania in 2001.
The program provides the public a means to notify officials of crossing emergencies and problems. Calls are received by personnel trained in handling public-safety situations.
1-800 ENS includes crossing and contact data, hardware and software, telecommunications and communications personnel, and special signs — which include a U.S. Department of Transportation Crossing Inventory Number identifying a specific crossing — that railroads can post at crossings to provide motorists a toll-free number to call when there's a problem.


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