New System Enhances Worker Safety by Allowing Dispatchers to Deenergize Tracks
MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced it was the recipient of the American Public Transportation Association’s 2021 Gold Award for Commuter Rail Safety for an innovative system that allows train dispatchers to ensure worker safety by de-energizing tracks at the touch of a button, streamlining a process that formerly involved manually filling out paper forms.
Known as the Plate Order Protection System (POPS), this first-of-its-kind safety system was developed in-house by Metro-North’s Communications & Signals Team. POPS gives rail traffic controllers and power directors a computer-based option to set parameters for de-energizing tracks within a work area from the Operations Control Center in real time. A plate order is a request that is filled out to remove a track from service for electrical work. Under this new system, it is submitted by the power director and graphically displayed on the dispatcher’s screen, protecting employees working within a defined work zone and preventing misrouted trains from getting too close.
APTA announced its annual Safety, Security and COVID-19 Gold Awards and Certificates of Merit at its national conference of public transportation agencies in Orlando, Florida earlier today. Metro-North took the top prize in the commuter/inter-city railroad category for the third time in six years.
“We are thrilled to receive this award and are so proud of our team behind this program,” said MTA Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi. “POPS is only the latest example of our continued commitment to implementing new technology to keep our employees and customers safe.”
Metro-North has established a total of 15,793 work zones since the implementation of the system in 2020 with zero violations.
In 2020, Metro-North earned the Certificate of Merit for its Grand Central Terminal (GCT) Fire Brigade, an all-hazards prevention unit which is also an emergency response group. In 2018, Metro-North's TRACKS program (Together Railroads and Communities Keeping Safe) was awarded the APTA Gold Safety Award, a free community outreach program to provide education and importance of rail safety. In 2016, Metro-North received APTA’s Gold Safety Award for EEPS, an Enhanced Employee Protection System, a technology-based method that protects track workers.