Study of a Distributed Wireless Multi-Sensory Train Approach Detection and Warning System for Improving the Safety of Railroad Workers

The Federal Railroad Administration strongly promotes safer railroad operations throughout the nation's railroad industry. One area of concern is the safety of railroad workers who are often required to work on active mainline tracks or in their close proximity. To prevent accidents, workers have to be aware of approaching trains with enough time to move equipment and personnel to a safe distance from the track. Currently, railroads require their workers to act as lookouts for oncoming trains. This tedious task is prone to failure, due to human nature and our tendency to relax attention. Consequently, the number of fatalities among track workers is on the rise. Some devices attempt to address this concern, but, based on feedback from Union Pacific Railroads, none of these are acceptable in terms of sensitivity, warning time, and fail-safe operations. To address this vital need, Union Pacific and the Advanced Telecommunications Engineering Laboratory have teamed up to investigate a solution. Currently, no commercially available system can detect trains reliably in all environments, including hills, tunnels, etc. Existing solutions use only single sensors, such as track circuit detectors, vibration, etc. An integrated system utilizing multiple techniques jointly to offset individual shortcomings may provide the detection accuracy and reliability needed. Therefore, this project will research key aspects of a vital multi-sensory train detection approach--a distributed system that collaboratively processes data and shares its findings to accommodate detection on all tracks in the area for all environments. The researchers envision a system that is rechargeable, communicates wirelessly, and will be able to interface with the Positive Train Control infrastructure for future-proof operation and integration with other safety aspects like in-cab alerting. Union Pacific is committed to providing $300,000 support through railroad equipment access, track and yard availability for field data collection, analysis, and testing.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $59910.00
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Nebraska, Lincoln

    527 Nebraska Hall
    Lincoln, NE  United States  68588-0529
  • Principal Investigators:

    Sharif, Hamid

  • Start Date: 20120701
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20131231
  • Source Data: RiP Project 32773

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01483153
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mid-America Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT12-G-UTC07
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Jun 5 2013 1:01AM