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Commuter rail conductors testing mobile app that lets them track other trains, delays

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  January 17, 2013 11:40 AM

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A new mobile application launched this week allows commuter rail train conductors to track other trains in the system in real time, according to the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company.

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(MBCR)
“MBCR crews will now be able to better communicate delays, service interruptions and other information directly to customers as events unfold,” the company said in a statement on its website.

The “Conductor Companion” application debuted on Monday when 24 commuter rail conductors began using the mobile devices, the statement said. Half of those conductors operate trains that travel to and from North Station; the other half drive trains to and from South Station.

The conductors are able to see the speed, exact location and track assignment of every train in the system, officials said.

The devices the conductors use do not have traditional cellular, text message and e-mail functions, the company said. They were designed that way to comply with Federal Railroad Administration regulations and MBTA policies that prohibit certain personnel from using mobile telecommunication during work hours.

The only available outbound communication function on the devices is for 911 emergency calls.

The rail company developed the concept for the software, which it said is a “first-of-its-kind” application.

The pilot program will run for 90 days to allow for feedback, officials said.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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