Fabricated Metals division – at the forefront of Positive Train Control
Positive Train Control (PTC) are technologies designed to automatically stop a train before certain accidents caused by human error could occur. Specifically, in response to several high-profile accidents Congress mandated PTC to reduce the risk of: Collisions between trains; Derailments caused by excessive speed; Accidental operation of trains on sections of track under repair; and trains passing onto tracks after a signal is left in the wrong position. In 2008 lawmakers voted to compel railroads to implement PTC by the end of 2015. When it became apparent that the railroads could not upgrade their control systems fast enough, Congress extended the deadline to 2018.
Fabricated Metals builds aluminum and steel structures and enclosures that house the signal gear that makes Positive Train Control work. In 2015 the company stepped up production to meet the unprecedented demand from railroads rushing to try to meet the year-end deadline.
Don Curtsinger, 50-year veteran of the railroad signal industry and Vice President of Sales for Fabricated Metals said, “Late this summer we experienced a 50% increase in orders from our largest customers. It presented real challenges for our production team to keep up, but we didn’t let any customer down.”
The aluminum and steel houses and cases needed for Positive Train Control are similar to those required for older railroad signal technologies, but may be modified to house additional equipment or equipment in different configurations.
“Our company has the unique ability to efficiently modify basic designs to get the railroad customer the exact configuration they need,” says Kirk Chambers, Vice President of Engineering. The engineering team takes the requirements from the customer and translates them into precise drawings. These requirements vary by customer and specific application. Adds Chambers, “there’s never a dull moment for our drafters.”
With the delay approved by Congress, production of Positive Train Control houses and cases has slowed. However, the team expects demand to be strong right up to the new deadline in 2018. “It’s imperative that we as an industry step up quickly to improve safety,” says Curtsinger. “While a challenge to deploy, Positive Train Control promises real improvements in safety. We’ll do everything we can to help railroads implement it.”