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BNSF to begin Illinois train-control pilot program using Wabtec's ETMS

Instead of continuing to contemplate the benefits of train-control systems, Class Is are another step closer to implementing the technology. On July 14, Burlington Northern Santa Fe awarded Wabtec Corp. a contract to conduct a train-control pilot program using the supplier's Electronic Train Management System (ETMS).

Wabtec soon will install and test the system on 50 locomotives operating along a 135-mile corridor between Centralia and Beardstown, Ill.

"We have been studying train-control systems for some time and … are interested in determining the improvements in both safety and train operations the system can deliver," said Carl Ice, BNSF executive vice president and chief operations officer, in a prepared statement.

ETMS is designed to track and relay movement-related information — such as authority and speed limits, and work zones — through a digital communications network and Global Positioning System, and display the data on a computer screen inside a locomotive cab. The onboard display includes a moving map detailing a track's grade, curvature and topology. If an engineer fails to appropriately respond to movement and speed-limit warnings, ETMS initiates braking.

"BNSF is the second North American railroad to select Wabtec to pilot a train-control system," said Wabtec Railway Electronics President Robert Haag.

CSX Transportation previously tested a communications-based train management (CBTM) system designed by Wabtec along 125 miles of dark territory between Spartanburg, S.C., and Augusta, Ga. CSXT plans soon to equip 50 locomotives with CBTM and expand the system into signaled territory.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/14/2003