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Alstom Perspective: Collaboration and communications assistance
By Scott Sherin, vice president of marketing and strategy
At Alstom, we see PTC implementation as a collaborative process between Alstom and the railway operators. Each railway has both common hurdles to overcome and unique integration needs, specific to the railways operational procedures, schedule and volume. Alstom views providing active input to the PTC committee and working directly with the railways is vital to the success of both Alstom and the railway’s implementation of PTC.
As railways are reaching the end of their wayside implementation projects, leveraging the PTC signaling and communications infrastructure to improve their operations is becoming the new PTC focus. This is now possible with PTC in service: finding solutions that improve availability/performance, removing redundant systems that can now be functioned on the newer PTC hardware and looking for new applications that simplify operational requirements.
A majority of railways have existing communication networks in place to provide the link between the Wayside and Dispatch centers. In addition, as PTC has required the signalization of previously dark territory, there is a need for alternative wayside to office solutions. Providing a method for existing office-towayside protocols to be utilized over the new I-ETMS communication networks has been a topic in PTC conferences. Listening to railways and providing input to define a common standard allows Alstom to include the new CTC over ITCM functionality in our PTC products in a timeframe that meets the railways need. Being on the forefront allows Alstom to assist in the railways implementation of new technology and solutions, and bring those lessons learned to other railways that are looking to improve efficiency.
Alstom has been a leader in radio-based crossing activation with over 10 years of experience through the development of our ITCS communication-based train control system. When some of the railways begun looking at how the I-ETMS network could be used to provide crossing activation instead of the maintenance heavy constant warning track circuits, Alstom was there to provide guidance on implementation. Lessons learned through our ITCS applications put Alstom in the unique position to provide a framework on the standard ICD and through a collaborative effort between Alstom and the railways, put standards in place to allow railways to move in that direction for future applications. With quick development of software and historical experience, Alstom has incorporated wireless crossing activation as a standard application in its existing products, allowing railways to test these type solutions easily and confidently.
Now that freight railways will have dedicated networks linking their back offices to the wayside, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, or SCADA, applications are now feasible. Alstom has made including network management features a priority in its development cycle, paving the way for freight railways to increase the efficiency of their maintenance forces. Systems Management structures that have been leveraged by smaller transit agencies for years, are becoming an area of operational direction for freight railways. Implementation of solutions that incorporate modern principles, freight operational limitations and using the use of this data in future analytic applications must be considered. Leveraging Alstom’s experience from both transit solutions and freight needs puts Alstom in a unique position to develop SCADA and systems management that push freight railways forward in modernizing their operational procedures.
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