Capital MetroRail Progress Report

It seemed like we were getting really close last month, but we hit a snag when a “vital logic” programming issue was discovered during a field test. Capital Metro has issued its September progress report, pasted here.

CAPITAL METRORAIL PROGRESS REPORT – SEPTEMBER 17, 2009

Capital Metro appreciates the opportunity to keep the community informed about our progress with the MetroRail Red Line project.  Since the last report, we have identified the remaining actions we need to complete to open the line.  We are coordinating the resources needed and developing a timeline.

Milestones Completed Since August 19

  • Capital Metro and Veolia Transportation enlisted the services of a systems engineering firm to facilitate and coordinate final system integration tasks and resources required to open the line.
  • Completed relocation of train detection equipment.
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regional and national teams conducted a site visit Aug. 24-27, and identified a “vital logic” programming issue during field testing.
  • Initiated compilation of system integration documentation requested during FRA visit.
  • Conducted thorough Hazard Analysis/Risk Assessment.  Key issues identified include:
    • Programming – Modifications are needed to computer programs at the control points in the field to address the vital logic issue as well as other issues identified in the assessment process.
    • Processes – Develop and implement changes to some processes for addressing issues.
    • Testing – All program changes will require testing at each site to ensure that the system is functioning as intended after the programming design change.
    • Validation – Once the programming changes are made and the individual locations are tested, we will test the integration of the entire system.
    • Documentation – The functional specifications, or system integration, will be documented.

Remaining Milestones

All teams involved in the Hazard Analysis/Risk Assessment will meet next week regarding resource coordination, cost estimate and timeline for the key issues listed above that need completion.  Capital Metro will continue to update the Board of Directors at its monthly meetings and will have another progress report to the community in October.

13 thoughts on “Capital MetroRail Progress Report

  1. Manor Rd Resident

    Here’s an idea. While you’re spinning your wheels getting the computer system working, how about finishing the quad gates at the Manor Rd & Alexander crossing so it finally becomes a quiet zone? The MLK and Cherrywood crossings have been finished for months yet we’re left out in the cold.

    1. Erica

      Hi, Manor Rd Resident. That project is awaiting funding approval and is on hold pending funds becoming available.
      The work involves more than just the quad gates–some road construction to correct a “dip” in the pavement is also part of the project.

  2. Vital Logic. Now that’s a scary thought. What is that?
    And why is this discovered at such a late date?
    Who is responsible?
    And, most importantly, who is paying to fix such a catastrophic error.
    It better not be us taxpayers. Someone better had lost their job over this.

  3. Life. Complicated

    Glad we got an update. Sad to see the mid October update committment go away to just October. I am still guessing that I lost the bet that this would be open soon to my husband and owe him a dinner as our wager.

    1. Erica

      L.C. I’m pretty sure the October update will be a “mid October” update…

      Remind me again what the wager was–that it would be open by the end of this year? I don’t know if we’ll be up and running or not this year, but I’ll tell you what. If we’re not up and running, I’ll get you and your hubby a $30 gift cert. to the restaurant of your choice.

      1. Matt

        Erica,

        Put me down for a gift certificate, cause I’m starting to think that the rail will never open and the whole project is really just a ruse.

        Tell you what, if you aren’t open until 2010, I’ll take a gift certificate. If you ARE open before then, then I’ll buy several tickets to ride. If you have night-service to/from downtown, then I’ll ride it every weekend and a lot of weekdays instead of just as a novelty.

        Deal?

  4. Adam

    Neal, vital logic is a term associated with the safety system and controls. This is accomplished though electronic programming. The vital logic issue was first identified during a test conducted last month. During this test, the system did not respond the way it should have. This will be resolved by computer programming changes at various control points in the field. Once the changes are made, each location and the overall system integration will be re-tested.

    L.C., I second Erica’s hunch that the next report will be in mid-October.

  5. Seems like CapMetro is going to a lot of trouble for a system that will run for only 7 hours a day, during “peak hours”, on weekdays… :-/

    I’m a huge supporter of rail transit but, I can’t help but think that if the funds that have been poured into the future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) MetroRapid, not only would it have been open by now, it could have been used as a blue print for light-rail transit that goes where people are, and where they want to go.

  6. Life. Complicated.

    Thanks Erica & Adam! As I was perusing the site a bit more yesterday in my quest for knowledge, I noticed that in one place the update said “October” and in another it said “mid October” so I appreciate the affirmation!

    Yes, my husband said it wouldn’t be open until the end of the year and I told him that I thought it would be open sooner as there was a lot of progress being made. You see, we also were on the delayed opening of the HEB out in Leander. We were told that it was coming for like 5 years, so we (well he) is a little less optimistic than myself!

    And, I do want to say this morning as I was driving in to work, I was excited to see that one of the buses had a Metrorail ad on it saying that it was coming soon! That to me is a positive sign that the tide toward opening may be changing sooner rather than later.

    Thank you guys for responding!!

  7. NThomas, it would be nice to believe that were the case, but the Rapid Bus project actually prevents rail from getting built on the Guadalupe corridor (where everybody with half a brain knows it belongs – including the Feds). Rapid Bus runs in the right lane – none of the investment made in Rapid Bus can really be ported over to a median-running LRT system; and the investment in the vehicles will be hard to abandon once it’s up and (very slowly and very unreliably) running.

  8. BTW, if Capital Metro had spent this wasted commuter rail money on, say, the city’s LRT proposal, we’d be almost halfway funded by now without a single city dollar. The Feds, even during the Bush years, would have been at least responsive to an application for funds – unlike with commuter rail, which they would have laughed out of the office (as Capital Metro figured out, which is why they never applied).

  9. chrysrobyn

    So, CapMetro has blown the original March estimate by 6 months — which was only canceled 2 weeks prior on March 14th. Now, they have to resort to wagering gift certificates about maybe hitting the end of the year?

    Where is project management on this? Each month, it’s pretty well implied that I’m only a month away from seeing people ride the trains (notably not me, despite my employer and neighborhoods being less than a mile from stations). “Remaining Milestones” all look like things that get done in the course of a month — there’s nothing comprehensive like “these will get done in the next 30 days” “these will get done when we have funding, hopefully in 30-60 days” “these are 6 months away from completion”. I don’t want some blindly optimistic “if everything goes well and we find a blank check form an anonymous benefactor” date, but a realistic date seems like it shouldn’t be too much to ask for.

    Were fraud charges pressed against the contractors who mislead CapMetro into thinking they could launch 6 months ago without more than 2 week’s notice the schedule had slipped by 6-8 months? Did the Feds just totally blow providing the right guidelines for launching? Maybe they were too busy helping Phoenix launch their brand new light rail system on schedule (December 31st 2008)? I mean, they literally shredded the middle of one of their busiest city streets so they could put a train down the middle, provided communication on how everything would work, and launched on time — that was at least 10 times more complicated than what CapMetro is doing, and they managed that project pretty well, apparently. The merits of their system aside, it seems as though it was scheduled and driven to completion far better.

    Since launch has been blown by this giant amount of time, does this mean CapMetro has gotten around to fixing the problems of running the trains more than during rush hour on week days (running all day and on weekends would solve a lot of problems, offering a reasonable bus solution for night time seems like it should be assumed, but clearly isn’t)? Perhaps finding a way to handle a fare system that doesn’t make riding from Howard to Kramer colossally stupid?

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