Positive Train Control Means Increased Rail Safety Measures

Rail systems get millions to improve safety

Rail systems get millions to improve safety

Last spring, the  U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would grant $197 million in funding for rail systems to implement the new rail safety measures called Positive Train Control.

Positive Train Control, or PTC, has been described as something of an “air traffic control” center for trains. PTC makes use of GPS satellites, radio towers, and ground sensors in order to better read a train’s speed and location. One such added benefit of this technology is that it can detect if a train is going too fast and allow on board computers to slow it down or stop it all together.

PTC

Photo Source – The Press Enterprise

“The number of passengers depending on rail has increased dramatically, which means PTC is needed now more than ever,” said Patrick Warren, FRA Executive Director. “This funding will get us closer to PTC implementation on some of the most significant railroads in the country that transport several million passengers to and from work every day.”

PTC systems are designed to prevent certain train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zones, and trains routed to the wrong tracks because a switch was left in the wrong position. The grants under this program will be used to install PTC technology, including back office systems and wayside, communications, and onboard hardware equipment associated with railroads’ PTC systems.

“Millions of people rely on our nation’s commuter railroads and Positive Train Control will help ensure safe and reliable service,” said FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes. “Today’s announcement means that commuter railroads can move forward with the implementation of an important rail safety feature.”

Of course, a project of this scale and scope has been met with some hesitation. Some fear such a system could higher transportation costs in addition to redundancies that could potentially result in layoffs. Though the debate continues whether implementation is fiscally wise or will managed, few can deny that such a tech will not be a strong tool in helping prevent accidents caused due to human error.

To view a list of when railroads predict that they will achieve full PTC system implementation, visit Railroads’ Planned Timelines for Full Implementation of PTC TechnologyExternal Link.

Sources:

New Technology Coming To Help Make MARC Trains Safer

Rail systems get millions to improve safety

Regulators and railways spar over Positive Train Control, a controversial safety system that won’t arrive in time

Meet John Zuspan, “the Track Guy”

 

Photo Source University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Photo Source University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“We must build and maintain the track structure the right way or Railroad Safety, Quality, and Integrity will be compromised and this great industry will (literally and figuratively) derail.” – Excerpt from Track Guy Consultant’s Mission Statement.

Event-goers of NRC-REMSA 2017 Conference earlier this year are no doubt familiar with John Zuspan; not only did he present a seminar on “Means and Methods for Direct Fixation, Low Vibration Track & Embedded Track” (a talk on the means and methods for DF, LVT, and embedded track construction), he was honored and inducted into the NRC Hall of Fame.

Throughout his 40+ year career, John Zuspan has worked in the various complex roles that make up our railroad industry. This journey first began with a job as a track laborer for Atlas Railroad Construction, where Zuspan learned first hand the tangible, physical requirements of railway assembly.  This knowledge would serve him well in his next role, Superintendent for Slattery/Skanska. Zuspan’s work ethic and drive resulted in his elevation to Director of the Track Division. Vice President for Balfour Beatty Rail was the next post Zuspan assumed, estimating and managing budgets for several large scale railway projects and being responsible for hundreds of track workers across three boroughs.

It’s no exaggeration to say that John Zuspan has an inside knowledge of all complex facets that make the railway industry run. This passion and perspective, gleamed through a decades of work, would lead to his next endeavor: Track Guy Consultants.

Track Guy Consultants granted John Zuspan the opportunity to give back to the railway industry through workshops, seminars, track inspections, safety training, and other services for railroad firms and employees. Stanley Beaver, Safety and Environment Director at Balfour Beatty Rail, sums up the impact of Zuspan’s work:

“Without John’s help, many individuals and small businesses may not have succeeded. Very often his help comes without charge in the form of advice and encouragement. John is never too busy to take time to help individuals working through complex issues.”

For his decades of service towards improving the quality of railways and railway employees, as well as his on-going passion to offer the tools and information new generations of railway workers can use, we name John Zuspan our Featured Innovator of the Month. We look forward to hearing more from him in the future!

Note: John Zuspan does not work for nor is he affiliated with  Willamette Valley Company. 

Sources:

Track Guy Consultants

RT&S

If you can think it you can print it! How 3D printing is revolutionizing the rail industry.

UnionPacific3D

Photo Source: 3D Printing Industry

“We can make design tweaks and have a new version ready within hours, plus the prototype never leaves UP. Additionally, it ensures a complete design before we move into expensive tooling or long lead times for molded parts.” – Royce Connerley, Union Pacific Senior System Engineer

It’s no exaggeration to say the 3D printing is a technology with boundless potential. With medical industries, housing, manufacturing, and hobbyists using the tech for printing in ways never before possible, it is no surprise that the railway industry too is turning to 3D printing for solutions.

For a bit of a background, 3D printing is the use of machinery to print components/materials. These materials can be plastic, metal through powder printing, and much more.

Union Pacific, for example, is using 3D printing for railroad machine vision technology. Machine vision loosely refers to the using of imagery for automatic inspection or analysis. Furthermore, Union Pacific is 3D printing remote controlled devices to track rail equipment.

In Europe, Deutsche Bahn has begun to use 3D printing in their actual train assembly. As Uwe Fresenborg, CEO of DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung states: “For the maintenance of our vehicles we need immediately available spare parts. Our trains are expected to roll, 3D printing helps us in doing so. Printing is faster, more flexible and cheaper than conventional manufacturing processes, and the vehicles are available again in a very short time and are used for our customers.”

3D-Druck_02

Photo Source: 3D Printing Industry

Beyond creating parts for trains, Deutsche Bahn has employed 3D printing to increase the overall experience of customers, such as by 3D printing metal pieces with braille for disabled customers and individualized handicap signs for handrails. As the program develops we can anticipate seeing more 3D printing components throughout Europe and beyond.

It’s safe to say that 3D printing will revolutionize not only rail but all manner of transport industries with its benefits to customer quality of life, safety testing, part replacement, and machine vision. As more industries adopt the technology we can expect to see even greater breakthroughs still.

Sources:

RailJournal: DB steps up 3D printing of train components

3D Printing Industry: Union Pacific 3D printing for railroad machine vision technology

3D Printing Industry: Deutsche Bahn extends use of 3D printing to “revolutionize maintenance”

Railroad Day on Capitol Hill

Capitol_at_Dusk_2

In a few short weeks, advocates and representatives of the Railroad Industry will make their annual journey to Washington DC to make their messages heard by lawmakers. This important annual event, Railroad Day on Capitol Hill, is taking place on March 2nd, 2017, at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown, 999 9th St, NW, Washington, DC.

With the ever-shifting political climate, it’s more important than ever to be heard.  As anyone who has taken part in the event before knows, it’s the most effective way for the railroad industry’s message to be reached by Congress and can only succeed if everyone turns out in order to present a unified industry.

New Dome Railroad Day Logo - 2017

The event takes place over the course of one day with appointments, meetings, and events all organized in order to communicate the important role that the railroad industry plays in America’s economy, improving our country’s role in global marketplace, and our ongoing success in helping the environment.

Attendees of Railroad Day will have the opportunity to speak directly with decision makers and help promote real change. “Railroad Day is our single most impactful day of the year with Congressional leaders,” said Linda Darr, president of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, of 2016’s Railroad Day. “We had the opportunity to address issues of importance to our industry and the shipper customers we serve.”

Attendance is open to all Class I, II, and III railroad personnel, shippers, state and local government representatives, as well as members from the supplier community with an interest in furthering the political goals of the railroad industry. To learn more, please visit www.aslrra.org.

Photo Credit: By Martin Falbisoner – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, www.commons.wikimedia.org

NRC-REMSA 2017 Wrap Up

NRC-REMSA2017

Photo Source: REMSA Twitter

Last month, a team from Willamette Valley Company’s Railroad Division had the privilege of traveling to Boca Raton, Florida to meet with industry representatives and officials at the NRC-REMSA 2017 Conference and Exhibition. This year’s event proved once again to be an unparalleled opportunity for WVCO and other railway businesses to connect directly with professionals representing all segments of the industry. We appreciated the opportunity to listen to your questions and concerns about the growing number of challenges this industry faces and introduce you to our wood-tie remediation and other repair products.

NRC-REMSA

The annual NRC Conference and NRC-REMSA Exhibition encompassed more than 1,000 attendees, 150 exhibitors and over 25,000 square-feet of meeting space. It was a pleasure to join the many other members of the railroad industry; including service firms, manufacturers, suppliers and contractors to answer questions about our railroad products and POLYQuik Roadway Repair materials, Joint Fillers and Light-Rail Grout. Other participants of the conference/exhibition included: Union Pacific, SANDAG (San Diego), Genesee and Wyoming, Caltrans, CSX, California Rail, LA Metro, Alaska Railroad, Norfolk Southern, Canadian National, New York MTA, Watco, OmniTRAX and many others.

Speakers

Event-goers had the chance to take in seminars from key individuals in the railway and transportation industry. Rob Castiglione, the Staff Director of Human Performance Program for the Office of Railroad Safety FRA presented “Overview of FRA Part 243 Minimum Training Standards Final Rule,” where he expanded on training requirements for all railroad employees and contractors who perform safety related work, the history of the rule, and the role of associations like NRC.

John Zuspan of Track Guy Consultants presented “Means and Methods for Direct Fixation, Low Vibration Track & Embedded Track,” a seminar on the means and methods for embedded track construction.

Jerry Power’s seminar on “Overview of FRA Part 219 Drug & Alcohol Regulation for Maintenance-of-Way Workers Final Rule”  covered  the scope of FRA’s alcohol and drug regulations to cover employees who work in railroad maintenance.

Lastly, Lesa Forbes, Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service, spoke on new opportunities abroad and how US Commercial Services can help your firm expand your international business.

HallOfFame

Photo Source RT&S

The event also saw the induction of new members into the NRC Hall of Fame, Ron Brown, John Zuspan, and Rick Ebersold. The three were honored for their work in NRC, REMSA, and the railway industry as a whole.

Below are some photos of NRC-REMSA 2017, courtesy of REMSA’s Twitter page.

NRC-REMSA2017

Photo Source: REMSA 2017

NRC-REMSA2017

Photo Source: REMSA Twitter

WVCO was proud to take a part in NRC-REMSA 2017 and look forward to taking part once again next year!

Sources:

Railway News

NCRMA

RT & S

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or “FAST Act” is Signed Into Law

FASTAct2America has always been a nation on the move. But an aging and crumbling transportation system is not only slowing Americans down, it’s reducing productivity, undermining our ability to move products across the country and around the world, and increasing congestion and air pollution. It’s time to get America moving again! – U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Last month, the first law providing long-term funding certainty for surface transportation in over a decade was signed into law. The implementation of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or “FAST Act” States means that local governments should be able to move forward with critical transportation projects, like new highways and transit lines, more easily. “After hundreds of Congressional meetings, two bus tours, visits to 43 states, and so much uncertainty – and 36 short term extensions – it has been a long and bumpy ride to a long-term transportation bill,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx. “It’s not perfect, and there is still more left to do, but it reflects a bipartisan compromise I always knew was possible.”

The deteriorating condition of America’s roads, bridges and rail lines have been an area for concern for some time.  According to US Department of Transportation, sixty five percent of America’s major roads are rated “less than good” condition, while one in four bridges require significant repair or cannot handle today’s traffic and 45 percent of Americans do not have access to transit.

The FAST Act is considered by many to be a good start, as it increases funding by 11 percent over five years. “This is far short of the amount needed to reduce congestion on our roads and meet the increasing demands on our transportation systems,” states the U.S. Department of Transportation. “In comparison, the Administration’s proposal, the GROW AMERICA Act, increases funding by 45 percent”.

The law also makes changes and reforms to many Federal transportation programs, including streamlining the approval processes for new transportation projects, providing new safety tools, and establishing new programs to advance critical freight projects.

For a more detailed summary of some FAST Act provisions, visit www.transportation.gov/fastact.

 

WVCO to Present Railroad Repair Products and FastPatch at the Railway Interchange 2015

Railway Interchange

Railroad SpikeFast

Willamette Valley Company is looking forward to exhibiting our Railroad products and FastPatch products at Railway Interchange, the largest U.S.-based technical conference and trade show for the railroad industry! The combined railway industry event, sponsored by AREMA, RSI, REMSA and RSSI, takes place October 4th-7th in Minneapolis, MN at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

An estimated 7,000+ attendees and hundreds of exhibitors from all over the world are expected to attend this world-class rail industry event. The event combines the technical conferences of AREMA (American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association) and CMA (Coordinated Mechanical Associations) and the exhibits of RSI (Railway Supply Institute), REMSA (Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association) and RSSI (Railway Systems Suppliers, Inc.)

Photo @ Railway Interchange 2013

Railway Interchange is an ideal venue for our Railroad Division to share it’s leading-edge systems and products for plugging spike holes in both concrete ties and wood ties as well as unique application systems to accurately apply them. Our team will meet with railroad professionals from around the world as they seize the opportunity to see and hear all that is new and innovative across the entire rail supply industry.

The demand for WVCO’s railroad maintenance and repair products continue to grow steadily, but it’s our proprietary product, SpikeFast, that is becoming known by most railroads as the industry standard.

SpikeFast, a non-foam polyurethane product, was created in 1999 as an alternative to wood plugs and other plugging materials. The result was a more reliable and efficient system of wood-tie remediation. Performance tests commissioned by national railroads indicate that SpikeFast outperforms wood plugs, polymeric foam and epoxy foam.

We hope you’ll stop by Booth 4509 to learn more about these and other repair and maintenance products.

All Aboard and Ready for the 2015 NRC Conference!

Rail Industry As the rail industry continues to grow and evolve, so does our selection of innovative rail maintenance and repair products. The WVCO team is always eager to connect directly with railway engineering professional representing all segments of the industry to introduce them to new products and ideas. We also appreciate the opportunity to listen to their questions and concerns about the growing number of challenges this industry faces.

This is one of the primary reasons we will be exhibiting products and services from our Railroad Division at the 2015 National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Conference in Hollywood, Florida January 7-10, 2015. The NRC is a trade association serving the needs of railroad contractors and suppliers. This annual event attracts some of the leading professionals in the industry who are there to network, attend technical presentations, seminars and more.

The WVCO Railroad Division team will join other members of the railroad industry including service firms, manufacturers, suppliers and contractors to exhibit our railroad products and POLYQuik Roadway Repair materials, Joint Fillers and Light-Rail Grout.

The annual NRC Conference and NRC-REMSA Exhibition will encompass more than 1,000 attendees, 150 exhibitors and over 25,000 square-feet of meeting space. We have a unique program agenda lined up with chief engineers from the major freight railroads, and other key speakers covering topics on:

2015 Class 1 and Regional Railroad Capital Spending Plans
Florida Rail Projects
Commuter Rail and Transit Contracting
Financial View of the Rail Industry
High Speed Rail Updates
Rail Infrastructure Legislation
Rail Projects of National Significance
Railroad Construction Safety

Please be sure to stop by the WVCO booth!

photo credit: Timothy Wildey via photopin cc

Spotlight on SpikeFast®, the Signature Product of the WVCO Railroad Division!

For nearly two centuries, the railroad industry has played a vital role in our economy and continues to grow throughout the world.  Why?  Railroads are one of the most economical and efficient modes of transportation resulting in more jobs and billions of dollars saved annually. As the industry continues to grow, so do the challenges; prompting the Willamette Valley Company Railroad Division to create successful solutions for railroad maintenance.

Our Railroad Division is continuously developing leading-edge systems and products for plugging spike holes in both concrete ties and wood ties as well as unique application systems to accurately apply them. The demand for WVCO’s railroad maintenance and repair products continue to grow steadily, but it’s our proprietary product, SpikeFast®, that is becoming known by most railroads as the industry standard.

Performance tests results show that SpikeFast® is the leading spike-hole filler in the railroad industry.

SpikeFast®, a non-foam polyurethane product, was created in 1999 as an alternative to wood plugs and other plugging materials. The result was a more reliable and efficient system of wood-tie remediation. Performance tests commissioned by national railroads indicate that SpikeFast® outperforms wood plugs, polymeric foam and epoxy foam.

Here’s how it works:

Headed to to the 2014 American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association in Chicago? Be sure to visit us at booth #401 to learn more about how we can serve you!

top photo credit: ecstaticist via photopin cc

WVCO Attends Infrarail 2014

Members of the WVCO team join the DWG booth at Infrarail 2014.

Representatives from more than 170 companies gathered this week at Earls Court exhibition center in London for the 10th International Railway Infrastructure Exhibition a.k.a. Infrarail 2014. Among them were three WVCO reps from our Railroad Division who joined colleagues at the DWG Timber Components Ltd booth to demonstrate our railroad and infrastructure maintenance and repair products.

DWG, one of our distributors in the UK, offers a range of concrete and timber repair products for the rail and civil industries including Spikefast, Fastpatch, handheld applicators and metering equipment for urethane based timber, concrete and asphalt repair products.

It was an electrifying scene with companies from all over the world showcasing the very latest products, systems and services for constructing, operating and maintaining rail systems. The exhibition also featured an interactive discussion forum and keynote speeches from policy-makers and industry leaders.

WVCO rep meeting with members of the rail infrastructure market at Infrarail 2014.

This year was especially exciting for us as the Civil Infrastructure & Technology Exhibition (CITE) took place alongside Infrarail making the largest infrastructure exhibition held in the UK this year.

It was beneficial for us to see the latest technology in action, learn about new products/services, consolidate existing relationships and make new connections. We could tell you all about it….but we’d rather let Infarail show you the event in action (see if you can spot our team):