Fact of the Week: Equipping Trains With Real-Time Positioning Systems Allows for Dynamic Speed Requirements, Which Reduces the Average Delay by up to 42 Percent

Caleb Foote July 1, 2019
July 1, 2019

(Ed. Note: The “Innovation Fact of the Week” appears as a regular feature in each edition of ITIF’s weekly email newsletter. Sign up today.)

Source: Maged Dessouky, Lunce Fu, and Shichun Hu, “Integrating Management of Truck and Rail Systems in Los Angeles,” International Centre for Tax and Development, UC Davis: National Center for Sustainable Transportation, October 2018.

Commentary: Trains have traditionally relied on signals from human dispatchers to determine their speed. However, large disparities in the speeds that different trains can travel causes significant inefficiencies in this process. New analysis of Southern California’s rail network has found that new positive train control technology can dramatically improve efficiency. By providing trains with the real-time positions and speeds of all other trains in the rail network, trains can efficiently coordinate passing and dynamically adjust their speeds, reducing the average train delay by up to 41.9 percent and allowing up to 20 percent more traffic on existing rails.