TSD's Rail Standards Page
Transportation Systems Design, Inc. www.tsd.org

Emerging Standards

United States Europe
Railroads Railroads
Rail Transit Rail Transit

US Railroads 

ECP Brakes are revolutionizing railcar braking. Tests on two and three mile long trains in the US have shown safer operation, and reduced coupler wear and up to 70% reduction in stopping distance on moderate downgrades. See Paul Niquette's technical briefing, this discussion,  and this International Railway Journal ECP Brake article  

Serial trainlines also open the door to remote monitoring and control such as hot bearing detection and health monitoring (E.g., the pressure in a chemical and temperature in refrigerator cars). The AAR's wired ECP Brake protocol standard conforms to ANSI/
EIA 709.1 protocol and 709.2 transceivers. The powerline transceiver specified is also being installed at the rate of 1,000,000 nodes/month in electric power meters in homes in Italy in late 2002. Ultimately this one job will have 27,000,000.


European Railroad Activities

For the radio portion ETCS, the Europeans appear to be migrating to a special rail-based implementation of the GSM standard prevalent in Europe. But there are some significant infrastructure costs and it remains unclear how quickly this new standard will be implemented on the Continent. A few links are shown below. If you know of others,  please let us know.

The project is a part of a set of interlinked activities aimed at the development of a European wide common concept for a railway safe signalling system.

ERTMS Update 
This International Railway Gazette article provides a good update as to what is going on in Europe.

This project aims to develop an integrated radio system based on the GSM standard in the 900 MHz band for application in the European railway networks (GSM-R).

  • Siemens GSM-R Link
    This link contains an excellent primer on GSM-R the new standard radio link now being developed for digital rail communications in Europe.

    Siemens Description of GSM-R  
    This excellent Word document describes the background of GSM-R

Train Communications Network 

Train Communication Network time-multiplexes digital information through serial trainlines. It was jointly developed by Siemens and Adtranz. For additional information see:



US Rail Transit

These new IEEE standards have the potential to revolutionize communications technology in US rail transit cars. Click on the above link for more details.

For an overview and update see this June, 2000 Story in Railway Age

A key objective of this program is to develop a standard Communications Based Train Control System for NYCT with Interoperable Interfaces permitting multiple suppliers. Because of its size (about 740 miles of track and 5,800 subway vehicles) it was hoped that NYCT may be able to set a new world standard for CBTC systems. However, increasingly it is appearing that there are too many proprietary interfaces with the leader's system for an open interoperable standard to emerge from NYCT's current CBTC program.


Why does the longest subway system in the world, MTA NYC Transit mandate LonWorks and LonMark standards. Because it wants an open interoperable standard and wants to be able to purchase commercial off the shelf products with open published interfaces. See also IEEE  RTVISC WG 1 for more information. 

On April 28, 1999, the LonMark Transportation Task Group held its first meeting in NYC. Here are the key presentations given at that meeting:

This new open standard for train line communications is being widely deployed throughout North American and around the world. 

TSC is a not-for-profit organization that exists to facilitate the development of all transit standards (both rubber and steel wheels) and follow up development with standards testing, maintenance, education and training.

Like TCIP, the organization will include transit agencies, standards bodies, vendors and other interested parties. The IEEE Rail Transit Vehicle Interface Standards group and the LonMark
Interoperability Association is working with TSC to help ensure the maximum possible interoperability of advanced transit systems.

TSD also provides support pro-bono publico to TSC's Technical Council 


European Rail Transit 

Currently, we do not have information on new standards for CBTC systems and technology in Europe for transit applications. If you know of activities, please let us know. We are especially interested in web links to CBTC transit/subway projects under consideration or design.

If you have any information, please contact Tom Sullivan




US Journal Articles

This Railway Age Magazine article describing the limitations of existing hardwired trainlines and the benefits that are being realized both by railroads and rail transit systems with new serial (time-multiplexed) trainlines. The IEEE Rail Transit standards are discussed along with details of how NYCT achieved interoperability between two competing car builders for its latest generation of subway cars.



Over the Horizon - Open Architecture Wayside Train Control 
Safe, cost-effective, interoperable train control systems are what transit properties and railroads want. Further, it's what the US government wants them to purchase and help pay to develop. By avoiding proprietary designs Open Architecture Train Control is the less costly to develop and is likely to have the longest design life because they use commercial off-the-shelf products and will conform to rail interface standards. A number of firms have expressed interest in applying these new standards. 

Here are two OATC concepts TSD is now developing with others: Smart Signals and an Intelligent Switch Machine Controller.



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