IEEE 802.15 WPAN™

Positive Train Control Study Group (SGptc)




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The US Congress in 2008 mandated the deployment of Positive Train Control (PTC) systems: advanced, wired- and wireless-networked communications systems to prevent train-to-train collisions, enforce train speed restrictions, and provide safety for road and railway workers.

PTC has four primary components

  • Equipment deployed on the locomotive/train
  • Equipment deployed trackside
  • Network access points deployed at or near trackside that are connected to systems operating at a remotely located control center
  • A bi-directional wireless data link that links all these elements. It is this component upon which the Study Group shall focus.

A presentation (IEEE 802.11-11/1032r1) was made at both the IEEE 802.11 WNG and IEEE 802.15 WNG sessions at San Francisco in July 2011, and the establishment of an Interest Group was approved by the IEEE 802.15 WG during that session. The fit with IEEE 802.15 is excellent; the released standards and in-process work that IEEE 802.15 has done to date have addressed in part many of the requirements for a wireless link for PTC operating in spectrum including, but not limited to, the 216-222 MHz band. At the Atlanta Plenary in November 2011, promotion to a full Study Group was approved. This study group will continue to review the work that has been done and propose a path to development of a future standard for the wireless data link element. A liaison relationship has been established with the Rail Transportation Standards Committee of the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society, and similar efforts are being pursued with the Wireless Communications Committee (WCC) of the Association of American Railroads (AAR). We invite participation from the broad rail transportation communications industry.

Current Status

The IEEE 802.15 PTC Study Group has been meeting via a weekly telecon since early October, while growing our membership and bringing in more experts on rail transportation, radio technology, security and propagation. All presentations and documents are posted on IEEE Mentor. A Call for Applications was made in early December, in order to help the Study Group to develop final versions of the Project Authorization Request (PAR) and Five Criteria (5C) documents. The plan is to move to a full-fledged Task Group by the following Interim in May 2012.

How to participate

Participate by attending our telecons. Our telecons are on Wednesdays approximately every week and are currently scheduled for 1600 US Eastern. The draft agenda, conference number and access codes will be sent out on the reflector at least 24 hours before the meeting time. The next IEEE 802.15 Interim meeting is at Jacksonville; until then, our telecon dates will be: 21 December, 4 January, 11 January.

IEEE 802.15 PTC Study Group conducts their discussions on the STDS-802-15-PTC Public Mailing List. You can learn how to subscribe to the 802.15 PTC reflector by pointing your browser here.


We are in the process of collecting submissions that provide a good overview about the state-of-the-art in PTC efforts globally. Document submittal is simple. If you choose to grow our library of knowledge, please do so using the standard IEEE 802 template. Please note that submission of copyrighted, confidential or proprietary material is prohibited. Double check for "Confidential" or "Proprietary" boilerplate before you push the "upload" button!

Who to contact with questions

  • Interim Chair: Jon Adams (Lilee Systems)
  • Interim Vice Chair: Dr. Alan Rao (US DOT Volpe Center)
  • Secretary: TBD

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

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