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Alta Enhanced Train Control (AETC) is a highly cost-effective solution which combines on-board technology and control center software to provide railroads with a complete traffic control solution for both signaled and dark territory environments. The solution relies on a communication infrastructure (Satellite, Radio, GPRS) that digitally transmits Train Movement Authority Information (Track Warrant or Signaling) to the train. Deployment costs are very low since AETC can be operated without the installation of any additional wayside equipment.
For the Control Center, Alta Rail Technology offers a set of applications that interface with trains, throughout the track network, to assist dispatchers with managing train movements in a safe and efficient manner. The software follows American Association of Railroads (AAR) General Code of Operations Rules specifications to prevent two trains from occupying the same track segment in opposite directions.
The central component is the Alta Safe Train Control software, developed for both signaled and non-signaled environments, operating independently of the railroad's communication infrastructure. It features event alarms, a user-friendly dispatcher interface, dispatch and customizable video wall displays and is supported in different languages.
The Planning and Execution (PX) system is a time x space graphical tool for planning and optimizing train movements and crossings. The easy-to-use user interface enables the dispatcher to simulate train schedules and quickly adapt to track interdictions, accidents or temporary speed restrictions. PX also allows the dispatcher to set routes or send a track warrant directly through the Alta Safe Train Control software.
One proven way to improve the financial results of a railroad is to motivate train engineers with incentives to reduce fuel oil consumption and transit time. Alta Rail Technology's Rail Rally software module uses data from the OBC event recorder to rank engineers by their driving performance, based on criteria that management wishes to reward.
The Alta Speed Restriction System completes the suite by allowing the dynamic inclusion/exclusion of speed restrictions in the track network, thus reducing the potential for accidents and improving the security for work gangs, for example.
The on-board system is comprised of an On-Board Computer (OBC), a Communication Module, an End of Train device and a Data Acquisition Module that interface with the locomotive to collect information such as oil temperature, oil pressure, pipe pressure, throttle position and current level, transmitting such information on pre-set intervals to the Control Center.
Using a human-machine interface, the OBC guides the train engineer with performance enhancing procedures to optimize transit time and fuel consumption, without compromising safety. A feature known as "electronic fence" enforces the limits of an authority with a breaking curve that stops the train before the end of the session block where its authority ends. Dynamic speed control is also enforced by the OBC, through its ability to stop the train in an over-speeding situation. The information set available to the engineer includes: fuel oil consumption and transit time target per session block; current speed and maximum allowed speed (defined according to the route and speed restrictions); grades and curves (based on the network map and train location); and, icons and alerts on the current status of the OBC unit.
An important component of the OBC is the event recorder that stores real-time data collected by the device for the duration of each trip. The data can be uploaded to a user friendly application that supervisors use to track each engineer's behavior in order to implement a continuous improvement process through coaching and training, or as a "black box" for auditing specific events such as accidents.