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Conference Presentation Schedule

Monday, October 15

Exhibitor Set-up

7:00 – 8:00 a.m. | Heritage Discover Center

Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. | Heritage Discovery Center

Plenary Session

9:00 – 10:15 a.m. | Heritage Discovery Center
Session Chair: Bryan Schlake, Penn State Altoona
Click on a title below to view available abstracts.

BNSF’s Use of Technology Across its Fleets
Presenter: Michael Schell, BNSF

Railroads have historically been seen as slow to adapt to new technology.  This presentation will take a look at the technology that BNSF uses across its fleet of more than 8,000 locomotives.  It will provide a look into the technology it is using now and a glimpse into BNSF’s future and how BNSF uses this technology to drive safety, reliability and productivity to allow BNSF Railway to realize its tremendous potential by providing transportation services that consistently meet our customers’ expectations.

Utilization of Asphalt Trackbeds for Rehabilitating Short Open-Track and Special Trackwork Sections of Poorly Performing Existing Trackbeds
Presenter: Dr. Jerry Rose, University of Kentucky

Since the early1980s in this country the specified use of a layer of hot-mix asphalt underlayment in the track structure — as a replacement or partial replacement for granular subballast below the ballast — has grown substantially on US Class I and Shortline freight railways and public commuter/transit rail lines. Typically this practice is specified at specific sites on existing trackage where conventional all-granular trackbed designs have not performed satisfactorily and/or where trackbed enhancement features potentially afforded by the asphalt layer were deemed particularly desirable.

This compendium of practices paper documents justification procedures and implementation practices for a wide variety of applications of this technology utilized primarily for rehabilitating short track sections requiring quick-fix practices during limited track outages. These include short open track sections; special trackworks — including crossovers, rail crossings, and turnouts; bridge approaches; typical highway crossings, and middle-of-street trackage applications. More involved applications include wheel impact load detector (WILD) sites and tunnel floors and portals.

Typical and specific design and application practices are described. The longevity of these applications varies from recent to forty years of in-track service. Emphasis is placed on evaluations of performance metrics affecting subsequent train operations, track maintenance requirements and costs, and overall maintenance of track geometric parameters. The performance evaluations are largely based on anecdotal and qualitative observations and historical evaluations augmented with limited quantitative track geometry adherence data and subsequent track maintenance cost data. The observed conditions and evaluated performances of all described projects indicate they are meeting or exceeding anticipated longevity and performance expectations. Special coverage of applications in Pennsylvania and surrounding Mid-Atlantic States is highlighted.

How Norfolk Southern Uses Technology to Determine the Right 2.5 million
Presenter: Ed Boyle, NS, Shane Rice, NS, and Antonio Mauricio, GREX

Norfolk Southern has utilized automated machine vision inspection of track and wood crossties on its rail network since 2014, a service provided by Georgetown Rail Equipment Co.’s Aurora and Aurora Xi platforms. When compared to using human walking inspectors, the benefits of automated inspection are significant with respect to daily productivity, consistency in objectivity, and variety of information extracted.

The primary purpose for NS using automated track inspection is to provide accurate tie replacement estimates on a mile-by-mile basis. Also, objective comparisons across the network are possible to feed tie program prioritization and capital planning.  NS also has developed proprietary tie replacement logic rules to determine optimal tie replacement plans on an individual tie basis.  Georgetown Rail Equipment Co. is developing a machine vision tie marking system that will mark ties based on this tie replacement logic.

Amsted Rail Networing Break

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. | Heritage Discovery Center

Session 1 – Rolling Stock Innovations

10:30 – 11:45 a.m. | 001 Devorris Downtown Center
Session Chair: Rich Lobron, Conduent
Click on a title below to view available abstracts.

Improving the Economics of Grain Movement Through Rail Car Design
Presenter: Peter Jones, The Greenbrier Companies

Railroads companies and Shippers strive to improve (or reduce) the cost per ton to move agricultural grains by rail. As a rail car manufacturer, we strive to find creative ways to produce shorter rail cars (increased tons per unit length of train), reduced aerodynamic drag (impacts locomotive fuel usage) with improved loading/unloading capabilities (reducing man-hours and improved operator safety). Greenbrier will discuss the engineering challenges to developed a new significantly shorter, more aerodynamic rail car with fully automated loading and unloading systems.

End of Car Systems for Heavy Haul Operations
Presenter: John Deppen, Amsted Rail

It is typical for railcars to be assembled into a train by coupling individual cars in a marshalling or hump yard. These yards often use impact ramps or flat switching to accelerate the railcar to a velocity sufficient to roll through a series of switches and tracks to the designation train. Rail operations attempt to keep these velocities to a minimum, but unfortunately, at times impact velocities can be higher than desirable. Depending on the type of coupling system (i.e. draft gear or end-of-car cushion unit), damage to the railcar, lading or both can occur at these velocities.

Another source of damage can occur in-train, where relative velocities between railcars can become large. Train length, gross rail load, terrain and the locomotive inputs are sources for these in-train shocks along with automatic couplers and their inherent free slack. Coupling components must be designed to account for these various inputs to reduce in-train shocks to acceptable levels. Computer simulations validated through over-the-road testing is one of the tools that used to predict the performance of various end-of-car products.

As trains become longer and heavier, it is critical that coupling component manufactures understand railcar dynamics and focus their efforts on products that can reduce in-train shocks. Products such as active draft cushioning along with improvements to A.A.R. specifications will be instrumental to support global heavy haul operations.

Prevention of End-of-Track Collisions at Passenger Terminals via Positive Train Control
Presenter: Zhipeng Zhang, Rutgers University

Over the past decade, a series of end-of-track collisions occurred in passenger terminals due to noncompliant actions from disengaged or inattentive engineers, resulting in substantial property damage and casualties. Compared to other types of accidents, the end-of-track collision is much less studied in the prior research. To narrow this knowledge gap, this paper firstly analyzes the safety statistics of end-of-track collisions, then develops a Fault Tree Analysis to understand the causes and contributing factors of end-of-track collisions. In order to mitigate this type of risk, we discuss the potential implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) for both the I-ETMS-type passenger terminal and the ACSES-type passenger terminal. For each implementation scenario, we propose the Concept of Operations (ConOps), and analyze the potential incremental cost and operational impact on train operations associated with PTC enforcement to prevent end-of-track collisions. Ongoing work is underway to fully evaluate the cost-effectiveness and reliability of enforcing PTC in terminating tracks to prevent end-of-track collisions. We present the proposed research trajectory in this direction.

Compressed Natural Gas for Locomotives Made Practical
Presenter: Dave Scott, CNGMotive

One of the biggest expenses for railroads is the cost of fuel. Although at this time there are many different developments and technologies that focus on the optimization of the fuel usage, none of these offer the savings that the use of compressed natural gas can offer Compressed Natural Gas for over the road locomotives has been tried in the past and encountered three primary challenges that stopped the adoption:

  • Compress Natural Gas tenders with the fuel capacity required to match current fueling intervals (>5,000 diesel gallon equivalents DGE)
  • Filling the tender under 45 minutes in order to fit within the natural operating tempo of the railroads
  • Initial investment rationalized to deliver attractive ROI to the railroads

CNGmotive has developed a novel technology solution that enables locomotives to operate on compressed natural gas (CNG). The base technology features a new rail tender that can carry up to 10,000 diesel gallons equivalent (DGE), more than adequate for CNG-exclusive rail applications.
This concept provides railroads with an opportunity to migrate to a cleaner and less expensive fuel with near-ubiquitous access to natural gas pipelines and CNG refueling stations placed strategically in their own yards throughout the United States.  Tender refueling can be completed in less than 45 minutes, providing a genuine diesel-like experience for fleet operators, with additional Direct-To-Locomotive (DTL) capabilities of a 10-minute fill. A compression station to fill the tender that you can install in a city lot within the rail yard with an investment that is less than 1/10th of an LNG investment.

The all-in fuel price for CNG using CNGmotive’s technology is about $0.60/DGE, less than half of the price of LNG and a significant cost savings compared to diesel . CNGmotive is preparing to demonstrate the new tender technology in a real-world operating environment.
CNGmotive is currently building the first CNG tender that will comply with the all the safety requirements of AAR M-1004 Standard including crashworthiness. The tender will be ready for testing in revenue service in January 2019. The tender consists of two banks of cylinders that contain the CNG at 4,500 psig, allowing high density and easy management of the CNG. The tender has an integrated pressure reduction system that conditions the gas from 4,500 psig to 125 psig at the temperature and volumes required for the locomotive. Filling the tender with CNG in less than 45 minutes was a roadblock in the past. Today, CNGmotive has the ChillFillTM technology which allows the quick fill of the tender in the time required by the railroad in order to maintain today’s schedule.

CNGmotive’s technology and products allow railroads to access major operating cost savings whilst using proven OEM dual fuel systems and makes profitable emissions reduction a reality. CNGmotive is working with the authorities for the development of the standards and as well as for the test and validation of the systems on US rail tracks. CNGmotive is leader on the development of CNG for practical rail applications in over-the-road, regional, local, and yard services.

Session 2 – Railroad Track Innovations

10:30 – 11:45 a.m. | Location: 321 Penn Building
Session Chair: Dr. Hai Huang, Penn State Altoona
Click on a title below to view available abstracts.

In-Track Measurements of Crosstie/Ballast Interfacial Pressure Magnitudes and Distributions and Correlations with Varying Train Operational Conditions
Presenter: Dr. Jerry Rose, University of Kentucky

This presentation describes the application of a method to measure average railroad track crosstie/ballast interfacial pressures using pressure cells specially designed for granular materials. The validity of the test method was verified with a series of laboratory tests. These tests used controlled loads applied to sections of trackbed constructed in specially designed resilient frames/boxes. This type of restraint was intended to simulate typical in-track loading conditions and ballast response.

For the in-track tests, a number of successive crossties were fitted with pressure cells at the ballast interface below the rail seat. Trackbed pressure measurements were collected for numerous revenue freight trains during several months of traffic. After raising and surfacing the track, the ballast was permitted to further consolidate under normal train traffic before again measuring pressures. Having the ballast tightly and uniformly compacted under the crosstie is important to ensuring accurate and reproducible pressure measurements.

Revenue trains tested over the 20-month period include numerous loaded and empty unit trains, mixed trains, and intermodal trains. The effects on cross tie/ballast pressures due to variable wheel loadings, train speeds, and wheel irregularities are presented. Test results from additional static and dynamic loading, using the FRA DOTX218 comprehensive test and inspection consist train, are highlighted.

Measured pressures at the crosstie/ballast interface directly below the rail seat range from 20 to 30 psi (140 to 210 kPa) for typical locomotives and heavily loaded freight cars having basically smooth wheels. Wheel loads measured by nearby Wheel-Impact Load Detectors (WILD) were compared to trackbed pressure data for the same trains traversing the test site. Various measured WILD parameters were compared to recorded tie/ballast pressures. Increases in peak WILD loadings, either due to heavier wheel loads or increased impacts, relate favorably to increases in recorded trackbed pressures with a power relationship.

Substructure Management for Regional and Shortline Railroads
Presenters: Jim Hyslip, Loram Maintenance of Way, Inc., and Dr. Hamed Kashani

Over the past decade there has been an emergence within the railroad industry of cutting-edge technology that allows for the efficient measurement of the condition and performance of the track substructure (ballast, subgrade and drainage). Ground penetrating radar (GPR), scanning lidar, and right-of-way imagery are being used to determine when and where to perform ballast and drainage related work. These technologies are currently available to supply regional and shortline railroads with information that will allow them to best allocate their precious capital dollars for ballast and drainage work. This presentation provides an overview of the technologies that are making the adoption of effective Substructure Maintenance Management a reality.

Smart Rail (Rail Integrity and Train Location Detection)
Presenter: Frank Smith, PE, Macro

This presentation provides an introduction to a new approach to improving rail safety based on recent developments in fiber optic sensor technology. The design described in this presentation provided a means to detect rail cracks and other structural anomalies before the flaws can escalate into a rail hazard. The technology provides continuous monitoring of the rails and permits real time warnings of deteriorating rail conditions. This technology of rail monitoring observes changes in the rails structural ability to support the load and not proxy variables such as ultrasound transmittance. Because this technology is in continuous operation and because it observes rail structural changes directly, it is far superior to all existing methods. Utilization of this technology can eliminate up to 33% of all freight derailments.

In addition to continuous, active monitoring of the rail structure the same sensor hardware can be used to detect the exact location of any and all trains in the detection territory. The technology will report, on a real time basis, the location, speed and direction of any train or vehicle on the rails. It will provide dual detection and independent confirmation of all vehicles in the supervised territory. Detection of the train or vehicle is not dependent on any active or passive equipment on the train. Detection resolution, even in a 50 mile detection zone, is less than the length of a typical freight car. The technology also provides a means to detect other hazards such as: missing spikes, loose tie plates, loose joiner bolts, track buckling and damaged roller bearings.

The technology described in this presentation is derived from fiber optic cable strain sensing applications currently in use by the petrochemical pipeline industry, oil drilling platforms, bridge structural monitoring and other real world environments. A sensor cable has been developed for other industries that has the structural integrity and sensitivity needed for the railroad environment. The electronics that illuminates and interrogates the fiber is in use in other applications. The fundamentals of the analytical tools needed to convert fiber optic data into actionable information is also in use. The principle impediment to making this technology commercially available is the creation of a fiber optic cable jacket suitable for the railroad environment and the revision of existing software applications to fit railroad requirements. This development work can best be carried out by a team that includes strong railroad operating experience and expertise in fiber optic sensor design. It is the objective of this presentation to bring together the entities most appropriate to proceed with this development.

Operating Trains During a Solar Storm (Geomagnetic Disturbance and Train Operations)
Presenter: Frank Smith, PE, Macro

This presentation provides a look at the potential effects of Geomagnetic Disturbance (GMD) on railroad operations. Solar Storms are a normal part of the suns life cycle and severe storms have happen many times and will happen in the future. GMD is the term for the various ways that Solar Storms effect our environment. Solar storms result in changes in the Earth’s magnetic field and in the composition of the ionosphere. These changes can be directly observed in how far south the Northern Lights can be seen and in the disruption of radio communications. Most Solar Storms are innocuous and soon forgotten but occasionally severe storms occur that inflict extended service outages and lasting equipment damage.

The Electric Power Industry has a documented history of wide spread blackouts and major equipment damage. The GMD Task Force, sponsored by NERC and FERC, has worked for eight years preparing plans and procedures to help the industry survive the next severe solar storm and to minimize consequent equipment damage. This work is very well documented and provides a read map of other industries. The railroad industry shares some vulnerabilities with the electric power industry especially along the Northeast corridor. There are other vulnerabilities that are unique to the railroads. Likely vulnerabilities are: traction power transformer damage, electric locomotive transformer damage, failure of track occupancy circuits and loss of train location information due to failure of GPS signals.

The work of the GMD Task Force has been driven by a Federal reliability mandate to keep the power grid in operation as a vital resource. The power industry is also driven by a need to protect their investment in capital equipment including transformers. Likewise the railroad industry should be driven to protect their operating equipment and to maintain safe operations during severe solar storms. To do that the industry needs to systematically evaluate their vulnerabilities and prepare procedures for continuing operations during the next severe GMD.

Lunch Presentation

Noon – 1:00 p.m. | Heritage Discovery Center
Opening Remarks: Dr. Corey Griffen, Associate Dean for Research, Penn State Altoona
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Hai Huang, Penn State Altoona

Session 3 – Railroad Surveying & Measurement Innovations

1:15 – 2:30 p.m. | 001 Devorris Downtown Center
Session Chair: Dr. Shihui Shen, Penn State Altoona
Click on a title below to view available abstracts.

Metrolinx’s Toronto Electrification Project: Phase 1 – The Engineering Survey
Presenter: Scott Paterson, Tulloch Engineering

Metrolinx, Toronto’s rail authority currently has 200 engineering projects underway with a value of $16 billion. One of the largest projects is a $4 billion Electrification Project for the Toronto commuter rail lines. In support of the engineering design of the project, in 2016 TULLOCH Mapping was contracted to provide a complete engineering survey of six Metrolinx railway commuter corridors originating from Union Station in Toronto, Canada.

An initial requirement for Metrolinx Electrification project is an up to date engineering survey to enable the preliminary engineering design. Our survey project involves surveying approximately 175 miles of railway corridor for 6 GO Transit tracks originating from Union Station in downtown Toronto. Our mobile LiDAR survey system was mounted on a GO Transit hi-rail truck; with most of the surveying occurring at night due to the heavy train traffic and since LiDAR is an active sensor.

TULLOCH provided a unique hybrid surveying approach, using mobile LiDAR surveying to collect all the visible features in the corridor, followed by conventional ground surveys to fill in missing features obscured from the LiDAR system’s field of view and static LiDAR surveys for some of the bridges inaccessible with mobile LiDAR. This is the first time Metrolinx has contracted an engineering survey using these multiple survey technologies. Using LiDAR technology provided significant advantages to the Electrification Project over using convention ground survey techniques. This survey approach reduces delivery timelines, limits track disruptions, and greatly improves safety. A major advantage of mobile LiDAR surveying for the GO-Transit rail corridors is that collection can occur at night when train activity is low and in a fraction of the time it takes to survey using conventional ground crews. This enabled project schedules to be advanced, as base mapping was completed in about 60% of the normal time required for the engineering survey. Using mobile scanning on the tracks reduced safety risks associated with on track field surveys. In addition, the resultant LiDAR point cloud can be revisited in the office, and additional features and critical information picked up without having to send field crews back to do so. The homogeneous nature of the point cloud, combined with the conventional in-fill survey provides a rich, full feature data set that can be used at various stages in the engineering design process.

Geospatial Reality Capture: The Core Foundation for the Digital Railroad
Presenters: Brian Daniel and Ryan Leonard, Leica Geosystems

This presentation will be an overview of various sensors and techniques used for data capture, considerations & challenges in data capture, and some of the various data extraction applications (e.g., track geometry, clearances, PTC, asset management, emergency response, etc.).

Unlocking the Potentials for Real-Time Location Intelligence
Presenter: Bruce Chaplin, Hexagon

This presentation will take a look at the powers of next generation geospatial systems for mission critical operations (e.g., Luciad).

Technology for Modern Track Inspections

Presenter: Ron Lang, Ensco

With increased rail car weights and total traffic volume, the need for regular track inspections increases but the track time available decreases. Modern track inspections require technology to aide in finding track defects which could lead to potential derailments. ENSCO Rail Inc develops, designs and delivers new track inspection technology to increase track safety inspections while reducing the track inspection footprint for freight and passenger rail. Three current technology trends in tack inspections to aide in efficiency include the combination of multiple inspection systems onto a single platform, the deployment of autonomous inspection systems and the development of virtual track inspections.

Cardload Express, Inc Networking Break

2:30 – 2:45 p.m. | Heritage Discovery Center

Session 4 – Vehicle Tracking & Data Integration

1:15 – 2:30 p.m. | 321 Penn Building
Session Chair: Steve Dillen, Penn State Altoona
Click on a title below to view available abstracts.

Opportunities for Integrating Locomotive On-Board Technologies
Presenter: Alex Lang, Carload Express, Inc.

The availability of lower-cost technology systems and features has allowed Short Line Railroads to take advantage of “Class 1 Railroad” type technologies. The proliferation of some of these technologies, such as locomotive event recorders, video systems, and GPS, create opportunities for data integration solutions – but these also need to be low cost. A related problem is the proliferation of custom cables, multiple cell modems, and other vendor-specific items that suffer from a lack of standardization.

Digitally Transforming Rail Operations: Yard of the Future
Presenter: Jeremiah Dirnberger, GE Transportation

GE Transportation is bringing the Yard of the Future to life with a holistic solution to enhance reliability, improve utilization of existing capacity, and increase margins and volume through these critical nodes. The solution set includes an integrated communications network, layered with the ability to monitor and control ground infrastructure and mobile assets.  The information from the monitoring and control systems are analyzed at the edge and relevant information is passed to the cloud for use by an integrated suite of inventory management and decision support tools.  With the Yard of the Future, everything in a yard is visible and smart planning tools are the norm, not the exception.  The impacts on work at downstream yards on and off your network are considered and decisions can be automatically made to improve productivity, reliability and flexibility, while enabling safer operations through effective use of automation.

How deep does one need to go into hard core data?
Presenter: Dan Monaghan, Great Lakes Railcar

All rolling stock owners at one time or another ask to what depth they need, should, could maintain data on the equipment. The correct answer is it varies with each business involved. And one never wants to be in the situation of saying to ones self: self, coulda, woulda, shoulda.

A simple answer for small railroads is: just the minimum required to register the equipment in Umler. Over the last 4 plus decades of performing rail car and locos services, we have found that answer to be totally inadequate.

The issue with that option is that the data requirements keep changing, and therefore that minimum keeps growing, and there are data needs buried in federal regulations that add to the total.

This then contributes to the corollary question, in what system and format should I keep the data? The answer depends on who you are, and much data you need or want to maintain. Being able to put the data accumulated in registration, maintenance, certification and other files into one or more data bases easily manipulated by personnel is important.

The large operations have access to IT people that can make various forms of data bases work. But…..experience has shown that some of these have very steep learning curves for the users who are not computer geeks. Small operations can’t afford to learn something that isn’t going to be used that much, and the amount of time it takes to become proficient.

Is there a data base that can maintain the volume of data, and import and export that data as needed to popular and needed formats, such as Excel, CSV, container fields for scanned certifications and pictures of the equipment, summary generation, and….?

A data base needs to allow searching on any one or combination of data fields, with hard specific or ‘wild card’ searches using partial names, less than, greater than, and many other functions. It also should provide summaries and totals that recalculate on the results of a search.

How not to allow your car (or loco) to get lost
Presenter: Pamm Monaghan, Great Lakes Railcar

How does a railroad or a car owner “lose” a car or loco? It seems ridiculous that such a large, and sometimes VERY expensive, object can be lost in plain sight!

Decades ago, there were many more personnel managing the movement of cars and locos. Even in a yard that had 1,000 cars a day change over, someone knew where every car or loco was in “their” yard. If you knew the right person to talk to, you would find your lost car or loco and why it was not moving or moving in the wrong direction. All it took was a working phone and the Pocket List of Railroad Officials.

And, many years ago, some high value cargoes were accompanied by a “courier” or “messenger”. The generic term was “rider”, but “rider” is a four letter word in the industry now. At least “courier” or “messenger” implies a trained and qualified person. And unless the object being transported has seating available, such as a passenger car or loco, the only place for such “messenger” to ride is the cab of the locomotives pulling the train. And that is usually not allowed by the rail industry. Today, personnel shadow the movement by highway! So how to make sure the load keeps moving to where it needs to go now, and not rack up extensive personnel time, food and lodging costs and highway miles?

The modern technology includes the current AEI tag reader system line-side, and various forms of GPS based location determination and status by radio communication. To that end, a new data field was put into the Umler system. Field number B176 is titled “Remote Monitoring Device”. The data allowed is blank or yes. This does not mean AEI tags, as those are mandatory on all cars and locos moving in interchange. This is only for identification that the car or loco has some form of satellite based location monitoring. PTC also performs that function, with most of the new data fields being in response to PTC, but we’ve not seen anyone make note of that for this data field. And PTC does not work when a loco or cab car is DIT (Dead In Tow), unlike the portable satellite tracking systems.

Such systems can tell you approximately WHERE it is at, if the uplink is properly working, but not WHY it is not moving or moving in the wrong direction. The AEI tag system can tell you which way the car or loco is pointed, the GPS based system can not, at least yet.

The intent is that modern technology today allows the tracking of cars and locos to be performed by technology, thereby saving the industry significant personnel costs. Some of these systems are very expensive, some are not. Some require access to “the Cloud”, some only to the maker’s on-line data base. Some small shop operations don’t even have a computer to use, therefore they can’t access the internet or “the Cloud”.

But… in order to obtain the “why”, what is old is new again. This need has spawned a cottage industry of providing relatively inexpensive 3PL services on an individual move basis. Access can be by traditional phone or fax, and newer technologies such as email and net browsers. An example follows.

Panel Discussion: “Meeting Today’s Railroad Challenges”

2:45 – 3:45 p.m. | 201 Devorris Downtwon Center
Session Chair: Joe Smak, Amtrak (Ret.)


  • Ed Boyle, Assistant VP, Maintenance-of-Way and Structures, Norfolk Southern
  • Brian Daniel, Rail Segment Manager – North America, Leica Geosystems
  • Jerome Lang, VP of Equip & Technology, Carload Express, Inc.
  • Dr. Jerry Rose, Professor, University of Kentucky
  • Michael Schell, Director of Locomotive Maintenance and Reliability, BNSF
  • Michael Sorbo, Bureau Director, Bureau of Rail Freight, Ports and Waterways, PennDOT

Exposition and Reception

4:00 – 5:15 p.m.| Heritage Discovery Center and Penn Basement


5:30 – 6:30 p.m. | Railroaders Memorial Museum

Dinner Banquet

6:30 – 8:00 p.m. | Railroaders Memorial Museum
Keynote Speaker – Representative Richard Geist (Ret.)

Tuesday, October 16

Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:00 – 9:00 a.m., Heritage Discovery Center

Session 5 – Safety & Security

9:00 – 10:15 a.m. | 321 Penn Building
Session Chair: Larry Garvin, Penn State Altoona
Click on a title below to view available abstracts.

Contemporary Challenges to Railroad Security
Presenters: Dr. Richard Young, Penn State Harrisburg, and Dr. Gary Gordon, University of Massachusetts Lowell and Massachusetts Maritime Academy

The U. S. rail system is huge, complicated, and intertwined with other modes of transportation and critical industries. Its capital assets include not only track and rolling stock, but bridges, tunnels, overpasses, stations, signals and communications systems, and maintenance of way facilities. Its tracks extend through major urban and populated areas, and into chemical plants, grain elevators, port facilities, and factories; its rights-of-way often parallel mass transit systems, heavily traveled highways, and share stations with buses, trolleys, and subway trains.

These characteristics make the potential for disaster clearly real. Looking at terrorism globally, one is struck by how often a train is the target. Time and again terrorists have seen passenger rail as an attractive and relatively vulnerable target. Freight rail does not appear to be as much of a target as passenger rail, but the threat to freight rail remains real.

As tragic and frustrating as attacks on passenger rail have and presumably will continue to be, attacking the freight operations of the sprawling U. S. rail system may be even more chilling in its potential for catastrophe. Freight trains in the U. S. are the preferred mode for the movement of hazardous materials, to include toxic and poison inhalation hazard (P/TIH) material. Rail operations may be the intended target, or simply the means of moving a dirty bomb or a vial of anthrax from one point to another. A serious attack on rail freight, especially if it is perpetrated on an intermodal train, has the potential to cause mass casualties and wreak enormous economic damage, potentially closing off port traffic for a period of time with global economic consequence in the billions of dollars.

Adding to the potential for disaster is the lack of examples to provide an empirical basis for both the establishment of public policy and the development of programs to secure the nation’s rail system. As a result, policymakers and first responders are left to deal with the most-wicked category of potential risk: low probability, high impact events. This session will provide a taxonomy of those challenges facing railroads today geographic constraints, infrastructure, and required operating characteristics. Numerous examples, drawn from the research, will be cited.

Railroad Security: Possible Solutions and Best Practices
Presenters: Dr. Richard Young, Penn State Harrisburg, and Dr. Gary Gordon, University of Massachusetts Lowell and Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Lacking any empirical evidence other than rail attacks in other nations, public policy and industry responses remain rooted in speculation as to the big questions regarding rail security in the U. S. Is the security risk to the nation’s rails real? Should rail security be seen as a major component of homeland security, and if so, what resources and actions are needed by policy makers and rail operators?

In short, there is no single “silver bullet” that can be employed to protect the nation’s trains and rail infrastructure. First, the geographic diversity of the rail system and the number of organizations involved in rail operations permit far too many permutations for any one approach to ever be able to fit all. Second, the idea that there is a 100% solution to the problem is an unrealistic one, and even if it did exist, would not likely be economically feasible to deploy. Third, the U.S., as a free and open society, cannot put substantial limitations on its citizenry such that their movements are unduly constrained. Fourth, acceptable protection, and we note that this cannot be total protection, will only be achieved through a comprehensive and holistic effort whereby individual rail operators, a wide array of government agencies, supply chain partners and the public at large are engaged. Fifth, there needs to be a recognition that both threats and the means of executing them shall continue to evolve, hence those approaches employed for thwarting such threats needs to continue to evolve as well.

The network remains vulnerable to both natural and manmade disasters or an exploitation of the latter by groups and individuals desiring harm to the U. S. Vigilance needs to be maintained by the individual rail companies and operating authorities, their industry associations, supply chain partners, government at all levels, and the public at large. It is a daunting task and our parting hope is that we have raised the consciousness through an elevation of the discussion by reminding everyone involved of the myriad of factors that need to collectively come into play to ensure that the nation’s freight and passenger rail system remains a safe, secure, and vital part of the national economy.

This session examines the physical and cyber threats within the context of a complex system that often suffers from a public perception of being antiquated and obsolete. The focus is a multifaceted one embracing human assets, technology applications, network modification, intra-industry cooperation, inter-industry combinations, and public policy initiatives. In short, there is no single solution, but, moreover, there are no simple ones either one embracing human assets, technology applications, network modification, intra-industry cooperation, inter-industry combinations, and public policy initiatives.

Cyber Security Risk Management of Connected Railroads: A Literature Review, Industry Survey and Case Study
Presenter: Zezhou Wang, Rutgers University

Nowadays, railway industry is being transformed quickly into Internet of Things (IoT), Digitalization, and Automation eras. Positive Train Control (PTC) technology, CBTC systems and other similar train control or traffic monitoring technologies heavily apply wireless communications and computer network structures to realize centralization and automation. The increasing connectivity and remote interoperability of railway transportation require complete understanding of cyber security risks in order to eliminate the vulnerability of modern railway systems under potential cyber attacks.

Led by Rutgers Rail, this research aims to identify, analyze, and mitigate the potential cyber risks among various connected railroad systems associated with different technologies. The goal of this research is to create a systematic guideline for the industry to become apprehensive and able to mitigate cyber risks to prevent the cyber security breaches.

In the process of the research, the team has convened railroad operators, suppliers, cyber security experts, risk analysts, and train communications experts to identify promising technologies and use cases in the age of connected railroads, and to develop an implementable risk management research roadmap to address and mitigate cyber risks from an operational and research perspective.

In order to fully grasp the cyber risk environment of connected railroad systems, technology assessment and use case identification are being conduced by the research team through literature review and industrial consultation. This presentation aims to discuss the research framework, the current literature review conclusions and collective industrial survey results, as well as the collected knowledge gaps between practitioners and actual security risks. General cyber risk analysis methodologies will also be presented to inspire rail-specific cyber risk mitigation strategies, which is part of the ongoing research of this entire project.

Survey of IST/SRA Research Applications at Penn State Altoona
Presenter: Dr. Jungwoo Ryoo, Penn State Altoona

Abstract not available

Session 6 – Railroad Technology Demos

9:00 – 10:15 a.m. | Penn Basement and Penn Parking Lot
Session Chair: Brian Daniel, Leica Geosystems

  1.  Leica Geosystems Technology Demos
  2. Hexagon Technology Demos
  3. GREX Technology Demos

Northshore Railroad Networking Break

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. | Heritage Discovery Center

Solution-Based Focus Groups

10:30 – 11:45 a.m. | Various Locations 

  • Rollingstock Innovation (students only)
    321 Penn Building | Chair: Steve Ettinger (Greenbrier)
  • Cyber Security Focus Group
    216 Penn (RTE Conf. Room) | Chair: Dr. Susan Saha (PSU-A)
  • Track-Based Research Focus Group
    006 Aaron | Chair: Dr. Shen / Dr. Huang (PSU-A)
  • Rollingstock Research Focus Group
    222 Penn, Chair: Bryan Schlake (PSU-A)

Student Career/Networking Lunch

Noon – 2:00 p.m. | Heritage Discovery Center