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Alaska Railroad begins to test train-control system, UTU says


Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) is designing, developing and beginning to test a computer-based train-control system on 120 miles of heavily traveled track near Anchorage.

This week, the railroad plans to test the system between Anchorage and Indian, according to a news item on United Transportation Union's Web site.

The system includes locomotive, wayside and dispatching hardware and software; Global Positioning System technology to track train location and speed; 52 locomotives outfitted with on-board computers and consoles to display train-movement instructions to crews; computer monitoring of manual switches; and early notification of remote-control switch status.

ARRC expects the system to help avoid collisions, provide crews real-time and advanced data, and enforce speed and authority limits by monitoring locomotive location, switch alignment, signals and wayside detectors. The system would stop a train if it exceeds a speed limit or passes a point of authority.

Federal Railroad Administration provided ARRC $12 million in funding assistance for the system, which the railroad plans to implement by 2005.

"Eventually, new technology is going to replace the locomotive engineer, but railroads still will require on-board trainmen to monitor the technology, and make set outs and pick ups," said UTU Vice President Arty Martin in a prepared statement. "[UTU] will make the agreements to protect everyone, just as we did with remote-control technology."

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More News from 5/12/2003