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June 2016

Rail News: PTC

Perspective: Roadway Worker Protection Bolsters PTC Efforts

Since the enactment of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, positive train control (PTC) has largely been discussed as a safety technology because of its use of communication- and processor-based train control technology that works to prevent train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits and the movement of a train through a main line switch in the improper position.

This network of systems is designed to protect human life and requires complex technologies able to integrate and analyze the vast number of variables that affect train operations.

A diagram illustrating Protran's Roadway Worker Protection system
(Click to view larger.)
Source: Protran/Harsco

While PTC will improve safety, the journey is not complete. Integrating additional enhancements like lone worker or adjacent track protection, working in tandem with PTC, will provide a wider safety net and protection from worker train interactions.

A roadway worker protection system removes any single point of failure that may exist within the broader safety framework. PTC coupled with roadway worker protection will notify both the train operator and the roadway worker of proximity hazards. The NTSB and FRA have issued additional key advisories to implement secondary technology to improve safety (NTSB-R-08-04, NTSB-R-12-39, NTSB-R-13-40, FRA-17-14, CPUC-GO 175). PTC coupled with enhanced worker protection would continue to improve safety on the railway.

To that end, Protran Technology offers Roadway Worker Protection and On Track Vehicle Collision Avoidance — two solutions developed to help railroads meet their safety requirements. Roadway Worker Protection provides:
    •    advanced warning to track inspectors, lone workers, and work crews of an oncoming train
    •    advanced warnings to train operators of workers ahead

With more than 5000 systems in operation, Protran Technology supports some of the leading Class I railroads, key commuter lines, and numerous transit agencies. This system meets the latest requirements and recommendations of the NTSB, FTA, FRA, and the CPUC.

Information provided by Protran Technology. For more about Protran products, visit For more on PTC news and products, visit


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