Railroad tracks

Boston Surface Railroad Company is developing a pilot that could enhance rail capabilities using cab-over-the-air technology through a robust analog signal. The enhancement could be used for short line railroads, potentially those being eyed for Nashua.

NASHUA — Boston Surface Railroad Co., the entity working with the city to potentially bring passenger rail to Nashua, announced Tuesday that it is developing technology that could reduce the need for classic track circuits and infrastructure.

“This is an exciting new development that will help fill gaps of Positive Train Control coverage throughout the railroad networks and make compliance more broad-based and accessible for smaller railroads,” Vincent Bono, president of Boston Surface Railroad Company, said in a statement.

BSRC is a privately funded intercity passenger railroad company based in Rhode Island. Two years ago, city leaders entered into a memorandum of understanding with Boston Surface Railroad to create a plan to bring privately-funded passenger rail service to Nashua. And, in 2018, the city hired AECOM of Los Angeles, Calif., to provide rail consulting services to help with that initiative.

At the time, officials said a consulting expert is necessary to help review documents and provide special advice to the city as it moves forward with its partnership with BSRC, in order to help protect Nashua’s interests and position the city appropriately when planning for rail.

According to Tuesday’s announcement, BSRC is developing a pilot that will make new enhancements to Positive Train Control capabilities, which could increase the safety of railroad operations with a reduced need for classic track circuits and infrastructure.

The pilot test will use prototype technology developed by BSRC on Siemens Mobility’s ACSES-II and 9 Aspect Cab Signal Systems, states a release. Bono said the rail company’s new partnership with Siemens Mobility will push the boundaries of technology to improve train transportation.

The two companies will work to deploy, refine and test signal Positive Train Control using cab-over-the-air technology through a robust analog signal, according to the release, adding Siemens is the largest supplier of Positive Train Control equipment for passenger lines in the northeast.

“We’re happy to be part of the effort to make this happen,” John Paljug, president of Siemens Rail Automation in the U.S., said in a statement.

According to Paljug, the new technology could be important for freight and commuter short line railroads that want to have full compatibility with Federal Railroad Administration-compliant Positive Train Control routes without the cost of investing in full infrastructure.

BSRC is working not only with Nashua, but also with Worcester, Mass., Lowell, Mass., and Woonsocket, R.I., to potentially bring passenger rail to those communities.

According to its news release, the rail company is in the final stages of project development and preliminary stages of construction.

Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess is supportive of the city’s ongoing work with BSRC in an effort to bring privately funded commuter rail service here.

“There are a number of obstacles to overcome, but we are optimistic that this public-private partnership could bring rail service to Nashua,” he said earlier.

Although the memorandum of understanding with the city is not intended to be legally binding, it is intended to promote and facilitate entering into a future binding agreement for passenger rail service between Bedford and Worcester.

Monday, December 09, 2019
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