Field testing plan for positive train control enforcement in passenger terminals

Zhipeng Zhang, Xiang Liu, Keith Holt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In the United States, a train moving onto a terminating track at a passenger terminal relies on the train engineer's operation. Currently, there are no mechanisms installed at the U.S. passenger terminals that are able to automatically stop a train before reaching the end of the track if an engineer fails to do so. The engineer's actions determine whether the train will safely stop before the end of the terminating track. Thus, incapacitated or inattentive engineer operation would result in end-of-track collisions, such as the New Jersey Transit train accident at Hoboken Terminal in 2016. Currently, PTC enforcement is not required in passenger terminals. In an ongoing project tasked by the Federal Railroad Administration, we study the cost-effectiveness and operational impact of possible PTC enforcement to prevent end-of-track collisions. Specifically, a Concept of Operations (ConOps) was developed to outline the proposed plans to implement two of the most widely used PTC types, namely the Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES) and Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS). This paper describes in-field testing of the ConOps in ACSES-type terminal. In the planned field test, a train equipped with one locomotive and at least one passenger coach would be tested on platform tracks in a selected passenger terminal. These are three major testing components, which are test equipment, test track, and recorded information for each test sequence. Firstly, in terms of equipment, a traffic cone will be placed on the track to simulate a bumping post. In ACSES system, two sets of transponders are programmed to require a positive stop within a specified distance and mounted to the cross ties at specified positions. Secondly, a yard track will be used to test the feasibility of this exercise at the beginning. Upon successfully completing the test multiple times, a series of tests will also be made on the studied platform track. Thirdly, each test run should record the distance from the head end of the test train and the traffic cone for each test run. In addition, ACSES system should also record the information on the ACSES display as it passes the first and second transponder set, respectively. Overall, the field tests presented in this paper, along with previous work in benefit-cost analysis and operational impact assessment, can contribute to an assessment of the proposed PTC implementation at stub-end terminals in the United States in order to effectively and efficiently prevent end-of-track collisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2020 Joint Rail Conference, JRC 2020
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
ISBN (Electronic)9780791883587
StatePublished - 2020
Event2020 Joint Rail Conference, JRC 2020 - St. Louis, United States
Duration: Apr 20 2020Apr 22 2020

Publication series

Name2020 Joint Rail Conference, JRC 2020


Conference2020 Joint Rail Conference, JRC 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySt. Louis

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Transportation


Dive into the research topics of 'Field testing plan for positive train control enforcement in passenger terminals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this