February 28, 2017 – STC, Inc has been issued a U.S. patent for its EMTRAC Rail Worker Notification system, which notifies railway maintenance workers of approaching trains, as well as notifying train operators when their train is approaching wayside workers.
The EMTRAC notification system is comprised of two main components, the onboard Vehicle Computer Units and the Personal Notification Units carried by rail workers. Optional detection units may also be installed in wayside cabinets along the railway to extend communications or to enable real-time monitoring of vehicle and worker activity. The EMTRAC system also includes setup software so administrative personnel can configure the system according to specific agency requirements.
Worker alerts are delivered by a pulsed audio alarm, ultra-bright LED lights, and vibration. Rail agencies can configure these alerts based on the urgency of various situations. For example, wayside workers who are not directly adjacent to the track may receive lower-level alerts delivered only by LED display. Specific areas may also be designated silent zones where the system will not trigger alerts. This functionality is an important aspect of an effective notification system according to STC President Brad Cross.
“Silent zones help reduce false alerts. This EMTRAC feature makes the system more user friendly because workers avoid alert fatigue, and they’re also less likely to become complacent when alerts do occur.”
The alert time-distances may also be customized to meet agency requirements. For example, the system may be set to alert rail workers 20 seconds before the trains estimated time of arrival at their location, giving workers time to move to a safe area and then acknowledge and silence the alert.
“Evaluations conducted by multiple light-rail agencies provided data to show that the EMTRAC Rail Worker Notification System outperforms the competition,” Cross said.
Field tests of the EMTRAC system confirmed that the patented system met agency-defined requirements at the most challenging railway locations for both reliable positioning and timely alert communications. To see portions of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) field test, please watch the included video.
In addition to rail worker safety, STC, inc has provided EMTRAC signal priority systems to both transit and first-response agencies throughout North America for over 25 years.