Message from Amtrak CEO

A MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT AND CEO JOE BOARDMAN ON TRAIN 188
The derailment of Northeast Regional Train 188 was a terrible tragedy that we are responding to with every resource we have available. The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation to determine the cause of the incident, and Amtrak is providing full cooperation.With truly heavy hearts, we mourn those who died. Their loss leaves holes in the lives of their families and communities. On behalf of the entire Amtrak family, I offer our sincere sympathies and prayers for them and their loved ones. Amtrak takes full responsibility and deeply apologizes for our role in this tragic event.We recognize that for everyone onboard the train, including those who suffered injuries, the healing process may be long. Within 24 hours of the incident, Amtrak set up a Family Assistance Center in Philadelphia to work closely with the family of passengers and crew on the train. We are also working with the individuals and families affected by this event to help them with transportation, lodging, and of course, medical bills and funeral expenses.

Amtrak is ever grateful to the City of Philadelphia—its first responders who bravely worked in difficult conditions, including the dark of night, to rescue and provide aid to hundreds; its hospital personnel who went into full alert as patients arrived at emergency rooms; its officials who quickly implemented a response plan; and its citizens who opened their doors to offer assistance.

Although our current focus is on the passengers and employees affected by this incident and the resulting service disruption along the Northeast Corridor, we must also take time to learn from this event. Passenger railroading is at its core about people; the safety of our passengers and employees was, is and always will be our number one priority. Our goal is to fully understand what happened and how we can prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future. We will also continue to focus on completing Positive Train Control implementation in the Northeast Corridor by December of 2015.

Thank you for your support of America’s Railroad during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

Joe Boardman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Joe Boardman
President and Chief Executive Officer

Speeding causes Fatal Amtrak Accident on Northeast Corridor

Talk is that PTC (Positive Train Control) could have prevented this terrible accident. Railroads across the country are adopting PTC. It is rumored that Union Pacific is installing it across Wisconsin on its Adams line (freight) to the Twin Cities. That could also make the hauling of more dangerous commodities such as oil, safer. Comments?

Railroads and an Interconnected Monitoring System

From : IBM: http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/uk/en/rail_transportation/ideas/ (via Eldeen Carpenter)

Railroads have always been part of a wider ecosystem—in the early 20th century, railroads even helped pave the roadways that connected farmers, commodity merchants and travelers to the rail lines. In the 21st century, rail companies will continue to collaborate with and extend their networks across an even wider array of the transportation infrastructure, including travel partners, suppliers, logistics service providers, intermodal carriers, regulatory agencies and customers.

Rail networks are one of industry’s earliest examples of an interconnected system, but vast opportunities exist for improvement today. Block train scheduling can create greater utilization of assets and capacity for both passengers and freight. Broader networks of high-speed passenger rail—with integrated systems of schedules, ticketing and services—are in development across Europe and in China, even as European and Canadian rail system manufacturers are looking beyond their more mature markets to ambitious rail projects in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Putting all this data and process to work will require a transportation infrastructure that is measurably more intelligent. The benefits, however, make rail the transportation option of the future. Mobile condition-based monitoring systems will provide railroads with more intelligence through continuous real-time capture and analysis of critical data, such as the health of rolling stock, as well as operational data, from manifest verifications to freight condition and intrusion detection. Sensors on cars will trigger messages based on decision modeling and analytics. Autonomic routines will then distribute the information appropriately, dispatching service, ordering parts, scheduling maintenance and performing remote diagnostics. Eventually, such mobile technologies could reduce the need for fixed infrastructure along the wayside and give railroads the flexibility and responsiveness they need to make decisions to optimize crew schedules, add or remove cars, and integrate passenger and freight transport more seamlessly, with far fewer delays.

It won’t happen without investment and clear priorities. But smarter railroads can create competitive advantages in the ecosystem of transportation infrastructure for rail companies. Smarter railroads can reduce the costs of adding new lines and rolling stock even as they increase customer service in a capacity constrained environment. And by taking on more freight and passenger traffic, smarter railroads can reduce congestion and improve safety on highways—which will also reduce carbon emissions.

In the 19th century, railroads provided transportation for the industrial revolution. Now, poised to become instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, they’re an important part of building asmarter planet.

Rail is Crucial for Transportation

From IBM: http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/uk/en/rail_transportation/ideas/   (from Eldeen Carpenter)

It is a rare day that you won’t take some form of transportation !!A bus, train or car to work. A bike to school. A plane for a business trip. And even if you don’t leave your home, your life is still influenced by the transportation industry: virtually every tangible good—food, clothing,medicine, vehicles, computers—has been transported into your world from somewhere else.

Transportation—the movement of people and goods from point A to point B—is the life force of our economy.

Cities could not exist if we didn’t have transportation systems to move people and goods in, out and aroundthem. It has been a leading driver behind globalization: shrinking distances, seeding the emergence of entire new economies and improving the quality of life for millions of people.

Yet many of our transportation systems are inadequate to serve the needs of the 21st century. By integrating technology and intelligence into the physical transportation infrastructure, we can improve capacity, enhance the traveler experience and make our transportation systems more efficient, safe, and secure.

Consider what happens when something goes wrong. A storm, a blackout or even a strike in one city can reverberate throughout the entire country because transportation is a complex, interconnected ecosystem of many stakeholders.

When our transportation system grinds to a stop, it costs money—between 1 and 3 percent of our gross domestic product. In the United States alone, 4.2 billion hours are lost to people sitting in traffic every year.

We can’t build our way out of congestion with more roads and bridges and tracks. “The pattern we see is that every time a new road is built, utilization increases and congestion comes back,” says Phil Mumford, CEO of Queensland Motorways in Australia. “We need to be smarter about how we manage our traffic flow.” And our airport capacity. Our railways. And our shipping lanes.

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Putting smarter rail transportation on the fast track

In regions throughout the world, the public and private sectors recognize the need for a better transportation infrastructure. And increasingly, they see the potential of smarter railroads to address that need. But how do we get there?

Through the vagaries of history, geography, economics and politics, some continents (such as Europe) are much farther along in optimizing their transportation infrastructure for train passengers, even as others (especially North America) outpace them in the use of rail for freight transportation. Each could learn something from the other. We’ve reached an historic point—whereby technological advancements now meet the societal, environmental and financial demands for a more efficient and intelligent transportation system. An instrumented, interconnected and intelligent transportation infrastructure—and smarter railroads, in particular—could make the global economy stronger, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make highways safer and reduce road congestion. A smarter planet, in other words, needs smarter railroads.

Smarter transportation means better systems for rail, air, public transit and freight. These can improve our cities, our economy and our daily lives.