This webinar was held on Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Track circuits have long been the means of detecting the presence of trains and continue today in that role, assuring train detection a critical component of the vital train control systems, maintaining on time performance and protecting passenger safety. The design of track circuits requires significant effort by developers to prove reliable and safe operation. Many issues are related to the operation of the train detection system in the hostile and busy environment of rail transit including:
  1. Continuous use of track circuits, vehicles, track, and traction power systems with limited time for maintenance. Significant changes to any of these systems or their components can affect track circuit operation.
  2. Track Circuit fail safe design principals and tight tolerances often leads to reliability problems when infrastructure cannot be properly maintained.
  3. Track Circuit corrective maintenance decisions are often hampered by the number of track circuits involved and a lack of information regarding the severity and potential for affecting train operation.
A system that can calculate in real time any exceptions that compromise the operation of track circuits evaluating both the type of problem and the potential for affecting passenger operation can be a critical component of daily operations and maintenance.


Robert MacDonald, Co-Investigator, Transit Systems Engineering Signal Consultant, Boston MA​

Bob has more than 45 years of experience in the field of automatic train control systems. Bob was active in the design, implementation, commissioning and maintenance of brownfield and greenfield rail systems during his twenty years at the MBTA and retired as Division Manager for Signal and Communications. After leaving the MBTA his experience was expanded and went on to include the design, commissioning, maintenance and operation of train control systems throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico. Bob’s hands-on experience in train control and training as an electronics technician in the Navy, a licensed electrician in Massachusetts, and graduate of Wentworth Institute in Boston has been combined to provide a unique insight and extensive knowledge base regarding practices for rail transit.

​Frank Beeck, Founder and CEO, Minneapolis, MN

Frank has 28 years of experience in designing and implementing solutions to monitor, control, and optimize mission critical control systems.  For over 20 years of his career, Frank worked with Siemens in management positions for software designs, implementation, and delivery of train monitoring and control systems. His experience extends to train control technologies, including integration, training, startup, as well as ongoing operations and maintenance. As a member of APTA, Frank is actively engaged in the development of an APTA recommended practice tool to monitor and verify the operational integrity of Track Circuits.
Frank is owner of Rail IT® and lives in Minneapolis (MN). He works as an independent consultant and is involved in monitoring and control systems for Mass Transit operations nationwide.
Tim Shoppa, WMATA Lead Designer, WMATAT IT Manager, Washington, DC

Tim has worked for 17 years at WMATA with the rail operations central control systems and personnel. WMATA ROCC computers monitor and control not just signaling for the 117 mile railroad, but also traction power, station power, and ventilation systems.

Tim is inventor of US Patent 8996208 covering the WMATA ATC Track Circuit monitoring tool.
Prior to his career at WMATA, Tim had extensive experience in warehouse automation, including automatic guided vehicles, conveyer belt sortation systems, and robotic cranes.
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