09 DEC 01 - FCC Certification for RF CBTC Radios - What's Real
- Added a "FCC Certification" column to the
Networks table for FCC Radio Licensing Information. This FCC Office
of Engineering and Technology web site is a great way to learn more about real
CBTC radios (as opposed to those still under development.) If your firm
manufactures or resells a radio that is actually used or potentially useful
for CBTC or PTC applications and has received FCC Certification, please let us
know what its Grantee Code and Equipment Product Code is so we can add it to
- Updated, corrected
CBTC Consultant List
- Added new CBTC and Advanced CBTC
Course dates at The George Washington University.
28 SEP 01
- Railway Age reports that RailWorks, one of the JV partners on the CBTC
Canarsie Line project with Siemens and US&S,
filed for Chapter 11
on 21 Sep 01.
- Posted new official updates by
SEPTA on their CBTC projects
27 Sept 2001
We Got GETS
- CBTC Product Manager Jeff Baker provided TSD
with new web links. Let's hope GE's webmasters don't change them for awhile!
Something old, something new in CBTC Papers...
We just upgraded our
papers section and encourage others
with potentially relevant papers, presentations, and links to contact us for
There's a great new presentation from BART (for those
interested in safety certification of software). We also "re-posted" two older NYCT
papers describing in detail NYCT's CBTC worldwide findings and why it decided to
migrate to CBTC technology. (Look for the temporary colored flags.)
TSD Rant: Our links
to other web sites continue to drift but we do our best to keep up. Clue to webmasters everywhere: We can't imagine a better way to undermine the
value of your site than to change your internal links frequently. As hard as it
is to imagine, most of your web visitors don't enter through your top front door.
The best searcher in the word (Google) takes
about 30 days to refresh everything so changing your important links more often guarantees they won't be found by the very people you most want to reach...
14 Sept 2001 - Are Monolithic Control Centers
Appropriate in a "Post September 11" World?
We continue to question the wisdom of
controlling large transportation networks from single large monolithic control
centers. Currently, NYCT controls its massive subway system - the longest in the
world - from a distributed
network of master towers. But NYCT just finished constructing its new Rail Control
Center building in midtown Manhattan. From a column-less control room 1.5 times the size of an
American football field in its new RCC, NYCT intends not just to monitor but
also control its entire 722 mile subway network -- and abandon its existing master
Clearly, NYCT's antiquated electro-mechanical
equipment in its master towers should
be upgraded. And centralized
monitoring makes sense. But in light of recent and previously unthinkable
events, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the wisdom of
putting all our control eggs into a single basket.
Modern control systems are now migrating away
from highly centralized control architectures to ones based more on intelligent
distributed control (IDC) architectures. Interesting, in a sense, that NYCT had
IDC all along.
13 Sept 2001 - NYCT's Joint
Venture CBTC Team - OK
We were relieved to learn most of the Siemens/MATRA
joint venture that was
based in the World Trade Center that was working on NYCT's massive
Communications Based Train Control project escaped before the buildings
Siemens employee we understand was killed.
10 Sept 2001 - General Electric's new Global Signaling Business
As detailed in TSD's Signal Supplier section (see
also, 17 July 2000) the firm formerly known as Harmon Industries (which last
year became part of GE Harris and then known as GE Harris Harmon) is now known
as GETS-GS - "GE Transportation Systems - Global Signaling." Recently, Harmon's
young and brief former head, Greg Herreman, was replaced by GE's Tom Hammoor who
comes to GETS-GS from GE's jet engine group. But as is typically the case when
mergers and buyouts like this occur, many senior staff of the smaller company
(in this case Harmon) leave or retire. For Harmon these included Russell Taylor
and Bob Heggstead. Others we hear have left as well.
While to the accountants such mergers and
acquisitions make sense, near term negative effects are often quite disruptive
and hard to measure. But we're finally beginning to see GE's signaling showing
train control products and systems (formerly shown better on Harmon's and GE
Harris' individual sites). GE and many others have a long way to go to enhance
their on-line web
information beyond that which we can see find in magazine ads. Often, it seems,
the bigger the company the worse its web-based information.
Tip to Senior Signal
Executives everywhere: Your firm's web pages can be more magazine ads. For a
clue, take a hard look at Westinghouse Signals Australia's great web site and its
extensive on-line signal catalog. If there's no meat people, will simply click
onto another (your competitor's) site. Get it? Don't you want them to spend a
lot of time learning more about you? Provide lots of links to detailed
information about your firm! If you've managed to stay with me this long
perhaps you'd enjoy Web Pages That Suck.
TSD even bought the book!
02 July 2001
Another Signal Company Name Change:
Westinghouse Signals to become Westinghouse Rail Systems
Westinghouse Signals, owned by Invensys (as is
Safetran Systems and many others) changed its name today. It seems like a very
00's thing to do: change your name and keep your customers confused. Business
card printers must be getting rich these days!
For those having trouble keeping up with who's
who in the signal industry, we commiserate with you. We attempt to keep our TSD
Signal Supplier table up to date. If you have any corrections, please let us
At least the old Westinghouse Signals web link
remained unchanged. We find it amazing how unaware most webmasters are of the
consequences of changing their internal links. Commonly known as "link
rot" it is apparently inconceivable to most that anyone would consider
entering their sites from other than their home page. Hello? Ever hear of a
Adtranz web site returns with a
Bombardier Look and Feel
For a few weeks it seemed the Adtranz site was
down. It's now back with a Bombardier name
The West Mifflin Adtranz folks are installing its Flexiblok Communications Based
Train Control System at SFO and also at SEPTA and SEA-TAC but we've been unable
to find any direct reference to it on Adtranz's earlier site nor Bombardier's
new one. A casual observer might wonder if Flexiblok part of Bombardier's
long term plans. Does anyone know what's up?
04 March 2001
We hear that LIRR may not proceed this year as planned with its CBTC program
19 December 1999 - New York's Long Island Rail
Road seeks CBTC advice
In a solicitation available today
LIRR is requesting information on how to incorporate CBTC technology and
eventually completely eliminate its existing fixed block systems. LIRR is now
nearing its specification development phase and seeks input from potential
suppliers to help it develop a complete, formal specification. To receive a free
copy of its initial requirements document go to: http://www.mnr.org/lirr/procurement/current.htm
then scroll down to "RFI-CBTC-001".
15 December 2000 - Alcatel & Alstom to build Meteor-compatible CBTC systems
After an unexpectedly long gestation, MTA NYC
Transit today issued Notice of Award to both Alcatel and Alstom for
each to develop new RF-CBTC systems. These new CBTC designs must be compatible
with a design to be developed by Matra Transport specifically for NYCT. Matra's
CBTC for NYCT will be similar in concept to "Meteor" the CBTC system
Matra developed for the Paris Metro, which has its roots in an earlier Matra
technology known as SACEM.
Long expected, but also long overdue, these two
"follower contracts" help pave the way for a new "Standard
CBTC" for NYCT and perhaps the entire industry. One of the key differences
between Matra's original Meteor for RATP and the CBTC specified by NYC Transit
is the Digital Communications System. In the case of the existing RATP Meteor
design operating in the Paris Metro, the two-way digital communications is via
low frequency inductive loops laid between the running rails. (In this regard,
Matra's Meteor design is similar to Siemens' LZB and Alcatel's Seltrac CBTC
systems.) But instead of near-field inductive loop technology, the new
Meteor design for NYCT will use Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum transceivers in
the 2400 MHz frequency range and integrated into a new overall RF-DCS
architecture. We understand the new Matra wayside DCS for NYCT may be developed
by Matra's parent, Siemens.
One surprise to many late last year was the
decision by Matra to develop its own RF-based DCS rather than use the DCS all
three firms successfully demonstrated during the evaluation trials on the Culver
line. We have understood for some time that one of the two followers will
purchase Matra's new DCS. The other will develop its own DCS compatible with
Matra's new DCS. As we receive more information we will put it in <tsd.org/cbtcprojects.htm>.
03 November 2000 - Will Alstom buy Ansaldo
A recent article in the Financial Times hints strongly
that French-based Alstom may be interested in purchasing or partnering with the signaling group
of Ansaldo. Ansaldo blames recent losses (which amount to more than
a third of its capital) on its subsidiary, Ansaldo
Signal NV. Among other firms, Ansaldo owns US-based Union Switch & Signal.
The Financial Times reported Ansaldo will hold
meetings this and next month to discuss its losses. Shareholders will also appoint a new board
following the resignation of board president Luciano Cravorolo. Could part of
Ansaldo Signal's woes be that like most signal firms, it makes precisely what its customers do not want:
large, complex proprietary train control systems that are sold in low volume and
(a priori) high cost which then must be maintained for 25+ years. Hello?
Finmeccanica has indicated it does not plan to sell its
Ansaldo Trasporti unit. Rather it intends to reach an alliance with a large
partner as soon as possible. If this happens it may further reduce the number of signal
companies competing world wide. And if history is a guide, this may mean that like General Railway
Signal before it, Union Switch & Signal may be absorbed under Alstom's
constantly expanding tent.
24 July 2000 -The Rights to Meteor
There may be a question as to who owns
the rights to portions of the Meteor CBTC. Installed at RATP by Matra, Meteor
technology was selected by NYCT late in 1999 to form the core of
its new interoperable CBTC. However, unlike the RATP design, Matra's Meteor
design for NYCT will use an advanced and sophisticated RF
Radio and Digital Communications System (DCS)
replacing the much simpler inductive loop design used in the original Meteor system.
Near field inductive loop technology has been proven for decades in train control
systems provided by Alcatel, Siemens, Matra and others. But next generation RF-CBTC systems do not
have loop crossovers so other techniques must be used to locate trains and keep
them safely separated.
NYCT wants at
least two followers to build Meteor-compatible systems with interoperability
specified at key
system interfaces. But if RATP's claims are true, some licensing
arrangements may have to be agreed upon before NYCT (or at least its followers) can move forward with deployment of
a pilot RF-CBTC on Canarsie.
Most observers agree that the DCS is the
highest project risk for an RF CBTC system and for this reason it was the subject of
six months of extensive
testing and scrutiny during NYCT's Culver Line trials last year. But NYCT
does not plan to use the only DCS successfully demonstrated at the Culver trials.
(Recently, NYCT cited "commercial reasons" for this decision when
proposal evaluations were made in 1999.)
But times have changed. Since then, a second RF-CBTC
and DCS is currently being being deployed at both SEPTA and SFO, and a third
DCS (not previously available "ala
carte") using radio ranging, is being
deployed as part of an RF-CBTC at BART. Radio ranging theoretically eliminates the need for
Matra/Siemens included in its NYCT offer to
develop a new DCS that will be integrated with spread spectrum radios tested at
RATP. But development of this new architecture could be costly to Matra and adds
risk to NYCT's Canarsie project. NYCT indicated previously that if agreements with
its two invited followers are not completed by July, 2000 it plans to invite
others (not initially shortlisted) to be CBTC followers. And if new suppliers are invited, NYCT may be in a position to
re-think whether its DCS, bird
in the bush, is still better than existing DCS designs it may now find it has, in
Many believe important benefits accrue not just
to the operator but to everyone when when the DCS is independent of the train control,
products are used whenever possible and open, interoperable interfaces and standards are
09 June 2000 - More Relay Failures at WMATA
After receiving more than its fair share of
failures, the Washington DC METRO (see 11 May) has another relay problem -- this time on its railcars. Early
last month an unexpected door opening on a rush hour Red Line train was traced to a faulty
vital relay. Subsequent inspections revealed nine other faulty relays on its railcars.
31 May 2000 - CBTC Follower Deadline: July, 2000
TSD understands that while follower contract negotiations may be nearing closure, if
final detailed agreements are not reached by July, 2000, NYCT plans to invite others as
possible followers. NYCT is currently negotiating with the two other shortlisted firms
Alcatel and Alstom, for these CBTC follower contracts. We believe one potential
follower is currently proposing to use MATRA's DCS and the other is providing its own
31 May 2000 - Siemens may complete NYCT's ATS
As indicated below, a senior NYCT official now confirms that NYCT did issue a Notice
of Default to Union Switch & Signal on NYCT's Automatic Train Supervision Project,
S-32333. We now understand NYCT accepted in principle a joint proposal by Siemens and US&S
to take over this contract. Under the new arrangement Siemens would provide the central
office hardware, all software development, and project management. Likely it will take 2-3
months to develop a new contract to put this into effect.
26 May 2000 - Canarsie Line Grumblings
We continue to hear from many that NYC Transit's 2 invited followers for the Canarsie
Line CBTC Project were less than pleased by NYCT's decision to accept Matra's alternate RF
Data Communications System. During NYCT's CBTC evaluation trials on the Culver Line in
1999, the three shortlisted firms all successfully used the same RailPath DCS. But while
NYCT apparently liked Matra's alternate DCS proposal its radio network was never tested at
NYCT nor has it operated as part of a complete RF CBTC system.
While a complicated process -- after nearly six months of
negotiation -- neither firm has yet to come to final terms with NYCT as a follower. Were
either or both to drop out, others not initially shortlisted may now be able invited to
join in. But these other follower firms had actual operating DCS's and at least one
may have proven US technology superior to that proposed by Matra. Maybe, the Fat Lady has
not yet sung.
22 May 2000 - NYCT Automatic Train Supervision runs
We have been hearing from a number of sources now that NYC Transit recently issued a
Notice of Default to Union Switch and Signal on its major Automatic Train Supervision
Contract S-32333. Problems we suspect are related to the software development process that
is largely the job of US&S's subcontractor, Syseca. Syseca was recently purchased by
Harmon Industries. (Update: Harmon has since sold this group to Arinc)
11 May 2000 - Unsafe Failsafe Relays?
We understand the US Federal Railroad Administration issued Safety Advisory 2000-1
addressing safety concerns involving the Model B2 relay manufactured by GRS between 1960
and 1985 and its potential to stick and remain in the energized position after power is
removed from the coil. ALSTOM, which acquired GRS, estimates that worldwide, approximately
2,000,000 relays are affected.
Similar unsafe failures with vital relays from two major US
suppliers have plagued WMATA for some time requiring WMATA to reduce service and operate
in a semi-manual mode. Some estimates place the "Mean Time Between Unsafe
Failures" of a vital relay to be about 1,000,000 years. But empirical data may now
suggest the actual number could be far lower. So much for the traditional mantra:
"Don't worry, it's failsafe."
26 August 1999 - Updating our 14 August 1999 note
below: We stand corrected. It is now our understanding that all three shortlisted
suppliers were asked to leave their equipment in place at NYCT. Also, more information
regarding the news of Siemens' Transportation division being sold will be published
in the Rail Systems Technology Newsletter that will hit desks on 8/30/99.
14 August 1999 - We've been hearing from a number of
sources that Alcatel was asked to leave its CBTC equipment in place after the completion
of testing for NYCT. Might this suggest they are going to be the lead technology supplier
for NYCT? The answer is due from NYCT in a few weeks.
02 May 1999 - GE-HARRIS purchased Rail Safety
23 September 1998 - FBI arrests senior executives of
major signal supplier
FBI agents recently entered the US executive offices of a
major signal firm and whisked away two senior executives !
- 1 July 1998 - NYCT to announce three shortlisted
firms for Canarsie CBTC
- We can't keep biting our tongues any longer. Everybody is
saying the same thing: NYCT has shortlisted Alcatel, Alsthom/GRS, and Matra/US&S.
Proposers who didn't make the shortlist include Adtranz, Harmon, and Safetran. Safetran we
understand withdrew itself from consideration and did not submit a price proposal.
Official NYCT announcement is expected to be later this month.
- 19 June 1998 - Canarsie Line shortlist now down to
- There's been a lot of talk recently about NYC Transit's
recent shortlisting for the Canarsie Line Procurement. We understand that the original
list of six proposers is now down to four. A key consideration was the ability of each
shortlisted firm to develop, and control the development, of software.
- We believe we know which firms are still under consideration
(for further shortlisting down to three) but we have been asked not to disclose this
information just yet. However, if any of the firms who have been selected care to make
their selection known, we'd be please to post it as a press release!
- 18 June 1998 - GRS: In name, no more?
- Over the years if you hadn't heard of the name GRS and
General Railway Signal, you didn't know anything about signals. While GRS has seen better
days, and was recently sold, we hear its new parent firm is now considering eliminating
the name GRS and replacing it with something completely different. That seems unfortunate
as name recognition in this industry as it is in many industries is very important.