Technical Reports

Evaluation of the Federal Railroad Administration’s Autonomous Track Geometry Measurement System Research and Development Program

  • 25
  • May
  • 2017
AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Administration
OFFICE: RPD
SUBOFFICE: RPD-31
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-17/05
SUBJECT: Rail and Infrastructure Integrity
KEYWORDS: Evaluation, program review, needs assessment, funding, decision making
ABSTRACT: This report evaluates the Autonomous Track Geometry Measurement System (ATGMS). It examines: 1) the extent of ATGMS usage, 2) what railroads think of ATGMS, 3) why ATGMS is not being employed more, 4) ATGMS performance indicators, 5) how to evaluate the impact of ATGMS, and 6) establishing research priorities to increase ATGMS adoption. Data was gathered by conducting structured interviews with organized labor, FRA’s Office of Research Development & Technology, FRA’s Office of Railroad Safety, ATGMS suppliers, Class 1 freight railroads, and passenger railroads. Railroads are interested in ATGMS but are not using it widely for the following reasons: 1) concern about when data requires track maintenance, 2) not enough specificity of location defects, and 3) data quality. FRA wants to use ATGMS to inspect more tracks at lower cost, have better data to set policy, and improve safety. Research priorities should be focused on: 1) data quality, 2) location accuracy, and 3) clear definition of when knowledge requires action. An evaluation plan is presented that supports needs for accountability and continuous improvement in the ATGMS R&D program. The plan places minimal burden on FRA personnel while tracking change over time.
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