LTK’s industry-leading Vehicles and Systems Engineering professionals provide unparalleled capabilities in rail Systems Integration for streetcar, light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail and intercity networks.  Our approach starts with comprehensive documentation of the relationship between rail systems applications design and rail operations requirements. As part of the Systems Integration process, rail systems design should begin with a clear definition of operating requirements (headways, train consists, operating rules, safety procedures) that leads to a comprehensive systems-level design. The systems-level design must be supported by a concurrent systems integration process.

The systems integration process starts with a set of technical and performance requirements for the project. This includes service frequencies (trains per hour), vehicle characteristics, operating procedures, regulatory requirements and many other inputs.

The systems integration process includes vehicles, train control, communications, traction power, electrical distribution, supervisory control and other systems, as well as the track structure, alignment and dynamic clearance envelope.  Where tunnels are included in the alignment, mechanical and electrical ventilation equipment is part of the LTK process; often, these systems must be integrated with train control systems to provide robust emergency response capabilities. LTK’s engineering professionals ensure that each sub-system’s functionality, interfaces and performance are well-defined and function as a coherent whole, delivering seamless operation.

LTK’s Systems Integration teams deliver successful results through:

  • Requirements definition and management
  • Rail systems architecture and interface definition
  • Rail/wheel interface optimization and assurance of overall dynamic compatibility of vehicles, the track structure and all ROW elements
  • Confirmation of reliable and efficient interfaces (both mechanical and electrical) between the vehicles' current collection devices (third rail shoe, trolley pole or pantograph) and the power distribution system
  • Configuration control and change management
  • EMI/EMC analysis and compliance verification
  • Stray current control and cathodic corrosion protection
  • Sophisticated tracking tools to ensure that issues are properly logged, tracked, resolved and closed out.

In addition to LTK’s well-known vehicle engineering capabilities, LTK has specialists in track and track substructure, and the critical systems interface between vehicles and the track structure, spanning light rail, heavy rail, and high speed rail networks.  Our state-of-the-art computer simulation tools allow us to build a virtual model of a rail vehicle and run it over measured or planned track geometry to predict vehicle forces, displacements, and accelerations for a given configuration. These vehicle interfaces extend to the entire dynamic clearance envelope of the train, confirming satisfactory physical clearances with all ROW elements - tunnel benchwalls, trains on parallel tracks, platforms, structures, poles and all other potentially encroaching project elements. 

LTK’s capabilities in optimizing the integration of vehicles with the track structure/right-of-way include determining the best wheel profiles for a given rail network, confirmation of vehicle clearance under static and dynamic conditions, noise mitigation, enhancement of ride quality, strategies for minimizing rail wear/prolonging rail life and investigation of operating incidents.

For the MBTA in Boston, LTK engineers supported vehicle testing and dynamic modeling to mitigate car body yaw motion and wheel wear on light rail vehicles.  This included assessment of the effect of prospective improved wheel and rail profiles on vehicle behavior and rail wear.  For Sacramento RT, LTK assisted this growing light rail network in reducing wheel/rail noise through improved wheel/rail profiles and optimized application of friction modifiers. For NYCT’s heavy rail system, LTK led track testing and vehicle dynamic modeling to aid in identifying measures to reduce wheel wear and lower wheel/rail forces.

LTK professionals also provide Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability (RAM) analyses and human factors studies.  This work ensures that associated rail systems controls – whether on-board, at the control center or in wayside enclosures -- are user-friendly and reliable under both normal and emergency conditions.

As rail systems construction advances, LTK works with current and future rail operators/maintainers to develop the system testing and commissioning strategy.  We then implement these detailed testing and commissioning procedures across the broad array of systems disciplines, ensuring that the rail system is reliable, maintainable and efficient.