Port Authority Transit Corporation

An expertly integrated on-train and wayside Monitoring and Diagnostic System solution for a 120-vehicle overhaul proved to be more than a means for reliable data collection and protection. It also meant reduced maintenance and operations costs and increased train availability.

Project overview

Project name: Transit car overhaul project

Client: Alstom

Type of project: Overhaul

Vehicle application: Commuter rail

Number of vehicles: 120

No. of QT units sold:

  • 120 Train Display Panels (TDP)
  • 120 Vehicle Monitoring Systems (VMS)
  • 60 Event Recorders (ER)
  • 60 Hardened Memory Module (HMM)
  • 120 Managed Switches
  • 240 Unmanaged Switches
  • FleetWise®

Contract awarded: 2011

In-service date: 2015


  • Ethernet Consist Network (ECN)
  • FleetWise®, Wayside Monitoring and Diagnostic System (WMDS)

Location: Lindenwold, NJ

A custom-built solution to improve operation and maintenance

Quester Tangent delivered a comprehensive Monitoring and Diagnostic System (MDS) for Alstom’s overhaul of 74 cars built by Budd and 46 cars built by Vickers supplied to Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO). The Vehicle Monitoring System (VMS), Event Recorder (ER) with Hardened Memory Module (HMM), Train Display Panels (TDP), and Wayside Monitoring and Diagnostic System (WMDS) provided the transit authority with real-time information on-train and on the wayside for improved vehicle operation and maintenance.

Flexible train Monitoring and Diagnostic System

PATCO needed a custom-built solution to fit the limited space available within the overhauled cars. The Monitoring and Diagnostic System (MDS) was required to monitor all Ethernet subsystems, as well as trainlines and subsystems without processors. Quester Tangent delivered the solution with a suite of on-train equipment, an Ethernet Car Network, and network integration services.

The Train Display Panels in each married pair independently gathers fault and monitoring information from each subsystem in the married pair through an Ethernet connection and presents the information on a 12.1-inch resistive touchscreen display. Non-Ethernet subsystems are monitored via the Vehicle Monitoring System discrete and analog inputs connected to vehicle wiring, trainlines, and sensors and report together with VMS subsystem data. Both TDPs monitor the same information, so each serves as a backup for the other one. The Event Recorder, integrated with the VMS to save space, independently logs fault and status data to the Hardened Memory Module.

The Train Display Panel is a key part of the monitoring and diagnostic solution. It presents fault and operational data to the train operator through an intuitive, graphical user interface and acts as the central diagnostic system to gather and process data from the married pair. The TDP was used extensively during integration testing, enabling system integrators to view faults logged in the TDP by other subsystems and communicating directly with subsystems to confirm proper functioning.

Secure wayside communication

FleetWise®, Quester Tangent’s Wayside Monitoring and Diagnostic System (WMDS), was developed to communicate securely with the fleet through Wi-Fi access points located at various stations and in the maintenance yard. The centrally located FleetWise server connects to each car as it comes into range of an access point, obtaining operational and fault logs from the car. This data is stored in the FleetWise database and is accessible to authorized maintenance and operational personnel anywhere on the PATCO intranet. Configuration and software updates can be sent to individual cars, group of cars, or the entire fleet.

Ethernet car network and network integration

The new Ethernet Car Network (ECN) is based on rail transit-proven Ethernet switches and standard protocols. A ring topology is used to provide redundant Ethernet links between all subsystems of each married pair for added reliability. The ECN has been designed with data throughput efficiency in mind and sufficient capacity to support the future addition of Ethernet subsystems.

Quester Tangent’s data network integration services included coordinating efforts between all Ethernet-based subsystem suppliers. We also managed the development of network communications protocols and the integrated fault-management plan, conducted laboratory interoperability testing for all Ethernet-based subsystems, and performed the on-train integration testing of all Ethernet subsystems.

Quester Tangent’s on-train and wayside monitoring and diagnostic solution provided the means for reliable data collection and protection, offering PATCO increased train availability, low-cost maintenance, and cost-effective operation for the train operator. Our network integration expertise ensured seamless integration with all train subsystems.