Sound Transit completes positive train control implementation for safety

The agency completed installation and commissioning last year ahead of the federal government’s deadline

January 29, 2019
transit positive train control rail safety

Sound Transit, the public transit agency serving the Seattle area, announced this week its completion of positive train control (PTC) implementation and certification on all Sounder commuter rail vehicles that run between Lakewood and Everett.

PTC technology can control train movements under certain conditions by automatically applying brakes and avoiding collisions. With the system in place, if an engineer exceeds the permitted speed or fails to brake upon approaching a work zone or signal, PTC will automatically apply the brakes and stop the train.

According to Sound Transit, once the system is operational wayside radio and global positioning systems (GPS) determine train location and ensures trains are operating within established parameters. 

Sound Transit implemented PTC in close collaboration with Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), an industry leader in PTC and the operator of Sounder service under contract to Sound Transit. PTC equipment on trains and tracks must communicate seamlessly and routinely with the back office systems deployed by BNSF. Sound Transit PTC equipment is fully interoperable with BNSF systems. Sound Transit executed its contract for installing PTC equipment in 2013, well ahead of many passenger rail agencies, and completed the installation and commissioning last year well in advance of the federal government’s end-of-2018 deadline.

Sounder trains from Everett to Seattle began testing PTC in June 2017, and lines from Tacoma to Seattle began testing PTC in August 2017. Sounder also operates on tracks owned by the agency between Tacoma and Lakewood known as the Lakewood Subdivision. Sounder service is also certified to operate under PTC in this subdivision. 

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Source: Sound Transit

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