New Safety Measures Implemented for Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (PTC)

In a recent safety bulletin issued by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on February 13, railroads were notified of a software error and malfunction in the Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (PTC). While this software defect could potentially lead to speed restrictions not being enforced within a designated zone, FRA emphasizes that the risk associated with this defect is currently low, as it has only been observed during lab testing and has not yet occurred in the railroad operating environment.

To address this issue, the railroad industry is actively working on a fix. In the meantime, FRA has recommended certain short-term mitigations that railroads operating the affected I-ETMS software versions should implement. These measures are aimed at ensuring the safe operation of PTC until the permanent fix is fully implemented.

The recommendations include instructing train crews to avoid manually changing the train’s direction of travel through the “Select Direction” soft key when near a switch. If a change in direction is necessary, the PTC system should be cut out and re-initialized with the correct timetable direction to re-acquire the switch’s status and remove the exclusion zone. Additionally, crews should be aware of the software defect and understand that when the train enters an exclusion zone, all track within that zone will be displayed as gray on the I-ETMS onboard display.

It is important for railroad operators to brief their employees and contractors about these short-term mitigations. The purpose of the safety bulletin is to ensure that the railroad industry is aware of the software defect and to provide guidance to prevent any potential safety issues.

The FRA has also provided contact information for further inquiries or information regarding this safety bulletin. Railroad operators can reach out to Calvin Viser, PTC Deputy Staff Director, at [email protected] or (630) 338-2762.

While the software error and malfunction in the Interoperable Electronic Train Management System is a concern, the implementation of these safety measures will help to maintain the protection of trains and ensure safe operations. The ongoing efforts of the railroad industry to address this issue demonstrate their commitment to prioritizing safety for both passengers and employees.

FAQ Section

1. What is the Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (PTC)?
The Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (PTC) is a software system used by railroads to enhance safety by preventing train collisions and overspeed accidents.

2. What is the software error and malfunction in the PTC system?
The software error and malfunction in the PTC system is a defect that can potentially lead to speed restrictions not being enforced in a designated zone.

3. Has the software defect occurred in the railroad operating environment?
No, the software defect has only been observed during lab testing and has not yet occurred in the railroad operating environment.

4. What are the short-term mitigations recommended by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)?
The FRA recommends that railroads operating the affected I-ETMS software versions should instruct train crews to avoid manually changing the train’s direction of travel near a switch. If a change in direction is necessary, the PTC system should be cut out and re-initialized with the correct timetable direction to re-acquire the switch’s status and remove the exclusion zone.

5. What should train crews be aware of regarding the software defect?
Train crews should be aware that when the train enters an exclusion zone, all track within that zone will be displayed as gray on the I-ETMS onboard display.

6. What should railroad operators do to ensure safe operations?
Railroad operators should brief their employees and contractors about the recommended short-term mitigations provided by the FRA. This is essential to prevent any potential safety issues.

7. How can railroad operators obtain further information or make inquiries about the safety bulletin?
Railroad operators can contact Calvin Viser, PTC Deputy Staff Director, at [email protected] or (630) 338-2762 for further inquiries or information.

Definitions

– Federal Railroad Administration (FRA): The FRA is an agency of the United States Department of Transportation responsible for the regulation and safety of railroad operations.

– Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (PTC): PTC is a software system used by railroads to enhance safety by preventing train collisions and overspeed accidents.

Suggested Related Links

Federal Railroad Administration