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American Public Transportation Association

 Tracks & Session Descriptions

Below are the technical and educational tracks and session descriptions for submitting an abstract for the 2011 Rail Conference.

Please note: We will be focusing on all rail modes: Urban Rail, Commuter Rail, High-Speed/Intercity Rail, and Multi-Modal.

Technical Forums (10)

  • Traction Power

    Abstracts are requested regarding new ideas and technologies for practices, systems applications and problem-solving involving any of the following: new traction power relay protection schemes; ground fault detection and isolation; alternative rectifier control; internet SCADA systems; total traction power control by microprocessors; system thermal considerations; other new or emerging technologies and their application to the general traction power industry; and IEEE Traction Power and Contact System Standards development.

  • Communications Systems

    From the challenges of legacy systems to the uncertainties of implementing new technology
    Communications systems pose technological and operational challenges that include: the need for systems to work 24/7 in all conceivable scenarios and constantly changing users, requirements, industry standards, and market environments. Papers from operators and suppliers are encouraged to discuss the lessons learned.

  • Signal Systems

    The operation of signal systems and the needs required for the next generation should be the topics of abstracts and papers submitted. Include any of the following: issues related to the reliability of signal systems in daily operation, maintenance requirements, technical training, systems flexibility, and integration with automated train maintenance centers.

  • Positive Train Control: Implementing the Technology

    Procurement and deployment of your agency’s PTC system
    While work continues on the final interoperability standards procurement and deployment, plans must go forward. This session will address many technical issues that need resolution.

  • Operations Control in Multi-Modal Agencies

    Coordinating mode connections: procedures and technology
    For the multi-modal agency, operations control is more than ensuring that one train or bus line functions as required. To connect the modes, agencies emphasize the procedural and technological means for coordination, as well as security. Papers are requested on how properties:

    • Are evaluating and quantifying their intermodal operations control requirements
    • Are addressing intermodal communications between control centers either through co-location or procedure
    • Are designing their next-generation control centers to meet their multi-modal needs
    • Can take advantage of new products to enhance their interoperability.
  • Interaction of Operating Procedures and Tunnel Ventilation

    Rail operating plans drive the design and operation of the tunnel ventilation system, for example, where trains stop (in congested conditions) relative to ventilation facilities and how the ventilation system will be operated during a fire. This session will address different operating scenarios and how the ventilation system is designed to work in concert with operation plans. Case histories and abstracts are invited on this and any other tunnel ventilation topic.

  • Direct Fixation Trackwork

    Advancement has occurred in the past years with direct fixation trackwork in tunnels and on aerial structures. This session will focus on the newer, direct fixation fastener types and applications and methods of installation that are of interest to the transit industry.

  • Noise and Vibration Control at the Wheel/Rail Interface

    Recent studies indicate the importance of appropriate profile rail grinding, wheel truing, and the use of friction modifiers to control wheel/rail noise and vibration. This session will focus on the mechanisms and practical control methods for mitigating noise and vibration generated at the wheel/rail interface.

  • Making Electric Rail Vehicles and Diesel Locomotives More Energy Efficient

    Emerging technologies such as ultracapacitors for regenerative breaking, use of lightweight materials, smart grid technologies for wayside storage of energy, use of lightweight technologies, and other types of systems in use worldwide to improve the energy efficiency of rail vehicles. Include diesel control technologies for diesel locomotives.

  • Fare Collection – All Rail Modes

    Abstracts are requested that discuss the technology and hardware for using credit cards, open payment systems, proof of payment and honor systems, and validation, and integrating smart cards into regional systems with multiple fares. For commuter rail, discuss fare collection that would match up with gated systems. Documentation is requested of successful multi-modal or regional partnerships.

  • Crashworthiness – Integrating New Perspectives

    Crashworthiness standards, both U.S. and internationally cover all rail modes, but new higher speed Tier-5 applications and recent alternative compliance specifications will have implications on new vehicle orders. Abstracts are being sought that define the fundamental landscape of crashworthiness standards, defining current approaches, new ideas in performance-based measures, and how higher speed commuter rail systems may need to be designed for safety and viability.

  • Urban Track Standards

    AREMA and APTA are continuing to develop standards for urban track design including rail selection, embedded track design, special trackwork, dynamic wheel to rail interaction and stray current control. Papers are sought on these topics and recent research work that will help transit agencies select the best design approach that minimizes cost and improves reliability.

  • Fare Collection – The Future is Mobile Phones

    Abstracts are requested for topics in fare collection systems that consider the power and flexibility of the mobile phone form factor. Describe how the mobile phone platform might encourage competition in payment methods and lower transaction costs for agencies, and how agency and customer flexibility might be achieved by spanning alternative architectures from “device-based” systems of most U.S. transit systems built today to simple account-based systems. Address application approaches spanning proof-of-payment for urban streetcars, gated systems, commuter rail and tolling. Identify architecture options for mobile phone implementation.

Operations (8)

  • Connectivity—Integrating High-Speed Rail and Intercity Rail with Transit

    Making the local transfer smooth
    Seamless transportation is the aim. The objective is linking the rail passenger to her local destination. Review the transit links in Boston, Washington, New York, and Philadelphia with Acela service. What can be learned from European and Asian experiences in tying regional and local services? How can we better integrate long-term planning for HSR/Intercity Rail and local transit to ensure that the last mile is still among the fastest and easiest?

  • Achieving Financial Sustainability for Rail Operations

    Abstracts from rail systems that have taken a strategic look at providing service more efficiently are invited. Include projects on developing more operational and energy efficiencies to increase service without adding costs, and measures taken to stem growing operating costs.

  • Accessibility: The Perspectives of Operators and Passengers

    To offer safe passage to all, U.S. public transportation systems have moved to meet the mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) since its passage in 1990. Abstracts are invited that are on practices and legal actions regarding level boarding, between-car barriers, and designs for stations, elevators, signage, amenities, paths of travel. All subjects that address rail accessibility for people with disabilities are invited for the abstracts.

  • New Approaches to Sharing Track

    Abstracts are requested on advancements in procedures, technology, and rolling stock that offer alternatives to traditional regulatory approaches to sharing track. Traditional regulatory approaches start with a presumption of physical or temporal separation, segregating railroad and non-compliant transit rolling stock in time and space. New circumstances are being defined, however, where strict temporal separation may not be required. Regional rail has blurred the boundaries between light rail and commuter rail into hybrid modes that require waivers from the FRA/FTA partnership in a federal process. The introduction of high speed and intercity rail using rolling stock built to modern European standards are blurring those boundaries further.

  • Bikes on Trains / at Stations: Meeting the Increasing Demand

    Abstracts are requested on vehicle design, operator policy, and procedures to bring bicycles onto rail vehicles. Bicycles can significantly increase transit access, particularly near universities. Universities continue to emphasize transit and bicycle access to campus and some provide thousands of bicycle parking locations near classrooms and other university attractions, while parking may be remote, scarce, or non-existent. The purpose of this session will be to understand what operators are doing to accommodate this increased demand for bikes.

  • Updating Rolling Stock Electronics – “Get a Mid-Life.”

    When buying rolling stock that lasts 30 years, the computer chips and electronics will be outdated well before the full life of the vehicles expires. How and when are rail systems updating their systems? Are mid-life rehabs (say, at 15 years) in your capital plans?

  • Evaluation of Emerging Technologies

    Have they achieved safety, operational reliability, cost savings? Abstracts are invited that document usage of newer technologies at rail systems.

  • Staying a Few Moves Ahead in Rail Operations

    Abstracts are invited that lay out operators they might increase extra boards and certify maintenance employees with pending safety regulations. How will rail systems be ready operationally? What are the impacts on operations and training programs? Other operations- and scheduling-related topics are invited, such as how to improve on-time performance.

Safety & Security (4)

  • State of Good Repair

    Best-practice ideas with a track record at your rail system are invited for inclusion in APTA’s 2011 Rail Conference. With rail organizations’ need for capital planning and expansion as well as maintenance, discussions are invited on ways maintaining the current services in a state of good repair while working on their backlogs of critical needs. Describe your strategy and experience.

  • Wayside Track Worker Safety Programs

    Abstracts are request on safety programs that have improved the safety of track workers.

  • Safety Culture

    If safety programs at your rail agency have been renovated and there is a strong safety culture, then please tell your story in an abstract. Describe the safety culture and organizational work to improve safety culture, such as a telephone hot line for employees or a program to not blame the messenger nor paint the messenger with the deed.

  • Human Error and Rules Compliance

    Abstracts are requested on human error and rules compliance, especially in relation to work on the TCRP A-34 study regarding rules compliance. Please include issues involving accident prevention for both passenger and employee safety, preventing track workers from being struck by trains.

  • Cyber Security Threats and Prevention

    Protecting our rail systems from cyber attack is a critical element of a security plan. Abstracts are sought that address the level of cyber security threat, mitigation measures, and integration with DHS and TSA. APTA has released its first recommended practice on control room and communication security that lays the foundation for part two now in development.

Planning, Sustainability, Finance (3)

  • PPP Rail Projects

    Public-private partnerships – creativity beyond design-bid-build
    Abstracts are requested on joint financing, operation, contract operations and maintenance, and other aspects of successful public-private partnerships.

  • Air Rights Development at Rail Terminals

    Air-rights development above stations and track attracts investors and developers, bringing revenue. Abstracts are invited that discuss how to integrate the private development into the public facility; the challenges in planning and permitting an air rights project at a major transit terminal; the logistical challenges and mitigation during construction; and creating a win-win situation for the transit operator and developers.

  • Risk Assessment

    An important element in the evaluation and management of major projects, risk assessment involves the probability that the budget will bring the project to completion. The FTA manages the federal government’s investment of taxpayer funds in transit projects and performs a risk assessment for projects that use federal funds. FTA's risk assessments are part of the New Starts planning and project development process. Papers should discuss rail systems’ experiences with the risk assessment process.

Capital Projects (3)

  • Retrofits: Integrating New Technology into Older Infrastructure

    Integrating new technology into older systems poses challenges for agencies as they continue providing service. Abstracts are invited on how rail systems have met these challenges through their experiences. What were the challenges presented by positive (or automated) train control (PTC/ATC) and other technologies? What was unique about each application? Tell your story as a case study and relate it to other potential situations.

  • Expedite Project Delivery

    Best practices and advice for upcoming projects regarding expediting project delivery are sought as part of the Rail Conference Call for Papers.

  • A Systems Engineering Approach to Capital Projects (also list in Technical Forums)

    Integrating SE and project management to deliver complex rail projects
    Abstracts are requested regarding case studies or lessons-learned analysis related to any (one or more) of the following: successful application of systems engineering (SE) practices and tools to address capital project challenges, such as

    • 1) technology migration – phasing upgrades and replacement of legacy systems;

    • 2) deploying new technology systems into existing in-service transit networks;

    • 3) overcoming organizational silos on project teams;
    • 4) managing integrated system verification and validation (testing and acceptance) across contract boundaries and subcontractor agreements;
    • 5) planning/designing systems holistically despite project packaging based on available funding;
    • 6) managing operations input/involvement throughout the project lifecycle from inception through acceptance; and
    • 7) contract packaging strategies for optimized procurement of integrated systems and system integration expertise.

APTA Conference Theme & General Management Topics (3)

  • Customer Communications: CEOs Outreach + Social Media

    Rail CEO webinars, chats, and station visits + using Facebook, Twitter, Linked, and YouTube
    Abstracts are invited that review the basics of social media and tell how Twitter let passengers know about a train delay (before the rail operator did.) Write about how web sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked, or YouTube successfully get rail systems’ messages to the public in a purposeful and coordinated manner. Abstracts should provide experiences in how rail agencies are utilizing these and other applications and outline the circumstances. How are operations departments interfacing with social media? Passenger communications – now that we are digital – help to bring more sensitive issues to discussion, such as fare increases. For example, does your CEO conduct online webinars or other online communications with riders? Or go to stations for regular rider meetings?

  • Transit Labor Management Contracts – Models for Success

    Successful labor management negotiations yielding contracts where both parties believe their best interests have been heard, fairly addressed and represented, may be one of the most challenging and important roles for organizations in representing their workforce and the transit industry. Abstracts should address the factors that yielded successful negotiations, good contracts, and strong partnerships. Include contact examples and models emphasizing innovative benefits programs and packages, i.e., pensions, health care, attendance, compensation, and employee development.

  • Alternative Revenue Sources

    Abstracts are invited that document new revenue sources, from wrapping trains with advertising decals and branding, to WiFi, to selling station-naming rights … your story is requested by APTA members.

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