Digital Train Line™ provides multi-gigabit performance, reliably operating on a dynamic consist

Company

Amtrak is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation. It is operated and managed as a for-profit corporation and provides medium and long-distance intercity service in the United States.

Amtrak operates more than 300 trains each day on 34,000 km of track, connecting more than 500 destinations in 46 states in addition to three Canadian provinces.

Caltrans - The California Department of Transportation - is an executive department within the U.S. state of California and is actively involved with public transportation systems throughout the state. It supports Amtrak California and the Capitol Corridor.

Challenges

Amtrak wanted a consistent, reliable high-speed and high-bandwidth capacity connectivity network for its customers, allowing them the freedom to stream video content as well as use social mediums and work on their journey. In collaboration with Nomad, the customer decided on a robust, flexible and standardized gigabit-capable connectivity system through the integration of a wired IP backbone across train sets of a dynamic consist. The challenge of connecting physical jumper and harness from car to car is to minimize additional work overhead when assembling train consists and to have a reliable and repeatable connection through a connector that can be dis-connected and connected every day.

The fact that this is such a pioneering innovation in rail creates unique challenges in that there is very little empirical or support data on which to base the technology. True innovators face the challenge of being the first and this solution is a first in the US in terms of the implementation of an Ethernet backbone with multi-gigabit performance, reliably operating on a dynamic consist.

Solution

The solution enables a wired Ethernet backbone ND DTL on California fleets.  Nomad is collaborating with the customer by creating a national standard for ND DTL now adopted by US rail industry.

ND DTL will be used as the baseline infrastructure to support a new On-Board Information System (OBIS) which will be implemented onto the fleet during 2017 by providing secure and managed connectivity within each vehicle and through the train.

It is a flexible solution which provides a future-proofed proposition for the customer as it allows for the integration of additional applications such as condition based monitoring of sub-systems in trains provided by Nomad Tech - Nomad Digital’s innovative partnership with EMEF – the Portuguese rolling stock maintenance company. The solution has the capacity to fully connect any passenger rail vehicle and can be retrofitted to existing vehicles.

Creating a baseline infrastructure gives Caltrans and Amtrak the flexibility to integrate a range of additional monitoring and diagnostic solutions for operationally critical applications such as air-conditioning, brakes and doors.

Digital Train Line™

Implementation

Nomad started work in 2013 and completed in 2015. Deployment was carried out across 144 cars (127 bi-level vehicles and 17 single level cars).

The work was a fully integrated deployment that involved design, specification, hardware, installation, configuration and commissioning.

Our solution was an extension to Amtrak’s WiFi contract and installed on vehicles already installed with WiFi.

Nomad’s ruggedized rail components built to harmonized industry and national standards; EN50155, EN50121-3-2.

 

Results

The result is a WiFi connection that provides high-speed and high-reliability network across dynamic consists with throughput rates of 2Gbps currently and the infrastructure capable of up to 40Gbps end-to-end through the train. It provides a connectivity platform for future applications that offers a scalable solution to the operator.

Working across a wired Ethernet connection has the advantages of offering a more secure network solution avoiding the issues of a shared, public platform.