May 1, 2020
MCS Project Receives Top Honors by RT&S
MCS was the recipient of the Best Use of Technology award for the design and deployment of the Track Driver Xtra (TDX) control center as part of the end-to-end Positive Train Control System (PTC) on the SMART IOS Project. MCS was recognized in the May 2020 RT&S publication.
SMART is a new greenfield agency operating on an existing freight right of way the agency procured as part of their start up system. The project required the implementation of a back-office system to safely monitor the operation of the assets on the system, dispatch train routes, and track the vehicle performance. Federal requirements of PTC posed significant challenges to on-time performance and necessitated the need for a sophisticated communication system to meet the safety concerns and still maintain exceptional operational performance.
MCS provided a communication-based network that included TDX, our propriety Train Control Software, for dispatching functions and to provide PTC office functionality which enabled SMART to operate their system in the most efficient manner. MCS installed redundant hot standby server systems and a fully redundant high speed vital and non-vital network. TDX provides an integrated platform for normal CTC functions, schedule and crew and consist management. Additionally, TDX provides an intuitive interface for normal rail control and SCADA control functions which provides schedule status of all trains as they traverse the alignment.
The project had three major natural disasters that tested the integrity, availability, and reliability of the system. In June of 2017, a mudslide at the Puerto Suello Tunnel destroyed a communications cabinet which caused a major break in the main fiber backbone. The system converted to redundant pathways and full alignment functionality and was available until a new case was installed and the fiber was repaired.
In 2017 and 2019, two major fires along the alignment required SMART to invoke emergency operations. The network and TDX operated flawlessly and allowed SMART to perform operational modifications as required by the ever-changing circumstances. The October 2019 Kincade fire also required an emergency temporary relocation of their Operation Control Center to another facility. The system’s scalability and expandability enabled this to be accomplished. TDX never lost communication with the field and when the temporary facility was brought online SMART maintained full operational control of their system.