The National Academies

Transit IDEA J-04/IDEA 83 [Completed (IDEA)]

Track Circuit Monitoring Tool: Standardization and Deployment at Chicago Transit Authority
[ TCRP J-04 (Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis--The Transit IDEA Program) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Staff Responsibility: Velvet Fitzpatrick
Research Agency: Rail IT, LLC
Principal Investigator: Frank Beeck
Effective Date: 5/6/2016
Fiscal Year: 2015

The use of Track Circuits in the transit and railroad industry remains wide spread. Track circuits are critical components of train control systems around the world. They provide vital train location information, assuring safe and reliable revenue service operations. In the busy and tough field environment of rail transit systems, many internal and external issues can adversely impact reliable operation of track circuits as vital train detection system.

The Track Circuit Monitoring (TCM) tool offers innovative algorithms and concepts to uncover abnormal operation of track circuits. TCM continuously monitors and evaluates track circuit occupancy indications for integrity and plausibility, in real-time, 24/7. It qualifies track circuit behavior as normal, irregular, failure, or potentially safety critical condition and provides appropriate alerts and notifications to individuals of Operations and Maintenance – directly and in real-time. The evaluation of an irregular occupancy includes a threat analysis of the compromised area and provides critical information to a potential safety issue including the related train movements. TCM significantly shortens the time frame to implement any restriction to an identified threat by Transit Operations Line Controllers - as needed – in order to protect the riding public.

TCM furthermore provides valuable information as a maintenance support tool and early warning system for equipment degradation, and – if includes in daily maintenance planning – can increase component reliability and transportation safety.

The TCM tool was adopted from WMATA, enhanced to a standardized TCM software application and supplemented with additional visualization and diagnostic capabilities. The TCM software was successfully implemented at Chicago Transit Authority. It is working at CTA in 24/7 operation since July 22, 2017. Currently, the tool is being implemented at MARTA (Atlanta) and is planned to enter into service by June 2018.
The final report is available.

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