Major Investments Underway to Make North American Rail Networks Smart
Big data is coming to the railroads, unleashing a technology upgrade so enormous and costly that it will rival the buildout of the national rail system more than a century ago.
The railroads are struggling to meet a December 2015 deadline set by federal regulators for installing positive train control, or PTC. That system will allow them to monitor and control trains digitally in hopes of preventing crashes like the 2005 Metra derailment in Chicago that killed two people and injured more than 100.
It’s an $8 billion to $10 billion project that requires railroad companies to upgrade and rewire the nationwide network of more than 50,000 switches and signals already in use, add a network of fiber-optic cable, cellular and satellite equipment, and create software platforms to run it all.
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