Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

Quester Tangent’s Train Monitoring System (TMS) and Passenger Information System (PIS) solutions introduced superior, flexible communication technology, expertly interfaced with both old and new systems to provide increased functionality and reduced risks, time, and costs.

Project overview

Project name: Diesel electric passenger locomotives

Client: Motive Power Inc. (MPI)

Type of project: New

Vehicle application: Locomotives

Number of vehicles: 40

No. of QT units sold:

  • 40 Passenger Annunciator – Intercoms (PA/IC)
  • 40 Communication Control Panels (CCP)
  • 40 Monitoring and Control Units (MCU)
  • 40 Train Network Controllers (TNC)
  • 40 Operator Display Screens (ODS)
  • 40 Secure Wireless Access Devices (SWAD)
  • 120 Exterior Light Controllers (ELC)

Contract awarded: 2011

In-service date: 2014


  • Train Control and Monitoring System
  • Passenger Information System

Location: Boston, MA

Flexible solutions designed with fleet compatibility in mind

In 2011, Quester Tangent supplied equipment to Motive Power Inc. (MPI) for 40 new diesel electric passenger locomotives to supplement the current Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuter rail fleet. The equipment in this project was similar to equipment Quester Tangent delivered to Hyundai-Rotem in 2009 for the MBTA Control Trailer Coaches.

This project included Monitoring and Control Unit (MCU), Operator Display Screen (ODS), Train Network Controller (TNC), and Exterior Light Controllers (ELC). To this, Quester Tangent added a Passenger Annunciator – Intercom (PA/IC) module to the MCU, a Communication Control Panel (CCP), and a Secure Wireless Access Device (SWAD).

Flexible and modular Monitoring and Control System

The Monitoring and Control Units originally designed for MBTA’s new Hyundai Rotem bi-level commuter coaches were re-engineered to provide wireless data transmission for remote access to locomotive data through a secure cellular connection. The locomotive MCU was optimized to handle large volumes of additional data generated by the locomotive engine control system.

The Operator Display Screen now allows the locomotive operator to view the engine status, the makeup of the consist (including car numbers, order in the consist, and orientation), and status of all Train Network Controller equipped cars.

Fleet-wide compatible Passenger Information System

The new Passenger Annunciator – Intercom is backward compatible with legacy public address and crew intercom systems compliant with American Association of Railroad standards. The audio has a wide dynamic range and adjusts the volume of announcements to compensate for a locomotive’s extreme background noise and to provide crystal-clear audio quality.

The PA/IC’s user interface is a Quester Tangent’s Communication Control Panel (CCP), which provides simple, push-button operation for full control with minimal effort. The CCP and audio communications controller are fully integrated with the locomotive radio, communication trainlines, and the operator headsets, handsets, and speakers located in operator cabs.

The MBTA’s aging fleet meant fleet compatibility challenges. While designed for installation in 40 new MPI HSP46 Locomotives, the Passenger Annunciator – Intercom module is also suitable for retrofit into MBTA’s existing fleet of vehicles, many of which are over 40 years old. The system can operate over virtually any vehicle-wiring configuration, from shielded twisted pairs to discrete wires, for easy retrofit in any vehicle in the fleet.

A Secure Wireless Access Device, connected to the Train Monitoring System (TMS) Ethernet Switch, provides secure wayside access to on-train data via a cellular modem. The SWAD also contains an integrated GPS receiver to supply time and position information to the TMS.

Quester Tangent’s Passenger Information System (PIS) solution introduced superior, flexible communication technology into the MBTA fleet.

System integration

A major goal for MBTA was to enable train operators in the Control Trailer Coach (CTC) to monitor traction power in the locomotive at the other end of the train. With the installation of the new Quester Tangent equipment in the locomotives, train operators can see this key data from both the new CTCs built by Hyundai-Rotem and the Kawasaki CTCs retrofitted by Alstom, up to 12 cars away.

Quester Tangent’s expertise in interfacing with both old and new systems provided increased functionality to the MBTA fleet, while reducing risk, time, and costs for Motive Power Inc.