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Rail News: Communication and Signal

Alaska Railroad to test broken-rail detecting system in dark territory

Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) is beginning to test a system designed to detect broken rail along track without automatic signals. The test is part of a 14-month "Track Integrity System" demonstration project with the Federal Railroad Administration, which is funding more than 90 percent of the project's $400,000 cost.

The track integrity test bed comprises three track sections and one locomotive. ARRC will test the system year-round, document results, and evaluate how well the system meets FRA fail-safe criteria and rail industry performance requirements.

About 85 percent of ARRC's corridor is "dark" or not signaled. The system — comprising wayside, vehicle and office software and equipment — is designed to identify rail breaks in dark territory as reliably as breaks in signaled territory. The railroad will install test equipment in five-mile intervals.

In late 2005, ARRC officials expect to validate and demonstrate the technology for use in freight- and passenger-train service, and create prototypes for ARRC's own system-wide use and for the entire rail industry.

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More News from 6/24/2004