TEX Rail plans include high-tech approach to safety for new rail line to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport

September 3, 2015

FORT WORTH

A proposed commuter rail line from downtown Fort Worth to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport will be among the first rails in Texas to feature state-of-the-art technology for preventing crashes, an official said.

The TEX Rail line, which officials said is on schedule to open by late 2018, will be designed a system called positive train control, a Fort Worth Transportation Authority official said.

The complex system, still in development nationwide, uses data from global positioning satellite devices, track-side sensors and other computer technology to track trains’ locations and to watch for human error that can lead to crashes. The system aims to automatically slow down or stop trains as a fail-safe measure to prevent collisions.

After several high-profile fatal crashes nationwide on passenger and freight rail lines between 2002 and 2008, Congress mandated that nearly all rail lines be equipped with positive train control by Dec. 31 of this year. Although railways have been working on the problem for years, those companies have notified the federal government that most of their lines won’t be ready by that deadline.

But the challenge is more manageable for some projects, including TEX Rail.

“Basically, it’s a computer system that knows everything about the train — where it is, what it’s doing, how fast it’s going,” said Bob Baulsir, vice president of TEX Rail and procurement for the transportation authority, also known as the T.

“If it’s coming to a curve, it knows the speed limit around the curve, and if the operator is not in compliance with our operating guidelines it’s going to stop the train,” Baulsir said Wednesday, after speaking about TEX Rail at a Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition meeting. “It’s a great way to use GPS and new technology. We’ll be the first in this region to have it.”

 

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