Light Rail Vehicle Communication

Industry: Government


The Regional Transportation District (RTD) of Denver maintains and operates a fleet of Light Rail Vehicles (LRV) for public transportation in the Denver metro area. The existing LRV train cars operated as intended but did not provide ample feedback to the operators during operation, or to mechanics about causes of failure. RTD approached National Instruments (NI) and Optimation about incorporating a data logging, communication, and display system into the trains.


National Instruments had delivered a proof of concept that incorporated two NI cRIO chassis and two NI touch panel computers for each train car. Optimation was tasked with expanding the proof of concept to include: individual car data logging, entire train communication, GPS time synchronization, Ethernet MODBUS communication and serial MODBUS communication. The ultimate goal of the system was to log car data locally, and to notify the driver at the front of the train to an issue anywhere in the train (i.e. an open door or set of brakes that failed to release).


The Optimation system has greatly benefitted RTD's mechanical operations, by providing more information related to mechanical failures through utilization of the data logs. RTD has also noted a gain in efficiency and decrease in downtime by providing train-wide signals to the driver. **For more details on our project approach, check out our case study - **
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  • Government

  • Automation Project Management
  • Controls Engineering
  • Electrical and Instrumentation Engineering
  • Instrumentation Engineering
  • Software Engineering

  • Continuous Control
  • Systems Integration

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