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Computer simulations test train and traffic signals on R Line

RTD began off-site "bench testing" in January of train and traffic signals for at-grade crossings on the FasTracks I-225 Rail "R" Line.

Using actual traffic signal controllers that will be installed along the light rail line through Aurora, traffic engineers can analyze train and traffic signal equipment to determine how they will function.

Simulators-test-signal-equipment
Light boards represent traffic signal indicators at five at-grade crossings during a computer-simulated test of train and traffic signals along the R Line in Aurora

For the bench tests, the controllers are connected to light boards that represent all of the traffic signal indications at an intersection.

"Testing train and traffic signal equipment allows us to make critical adjustments to operations and timing so that everything functions properly before being installed in the field," RTD Traffic Engineer Brett Higgins said.

Trains on streets

Remember, light rail trains will be rolling on the streets along with the rest of the normal traffic that uses some busy intersections in Aurora.

Higgins explained the R Line has several at-grade crossings where traffic signal equipment will be interconnected with rail crossing warning devices and rail signal equipment. All those systems must interact and communicate with one another and work properly before they are installed.

These critical systems will keep motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and everyone riding the trains safe.

Find more information about how to stay safe around trains and buses here.

How testing works

The bench testing process uses computer software to simulate trains approaching intersections and crossings.

"It's more cost effective, safer to the public and easier to conduct this initial testing in a controlled environment where multiple signal controllers can be wired in one location without being subjected to live automobile and train traffic," Higgins said.

After bench testing is completed, RTD will initiate systems integrated testing, which tests real trains and traffic equipment at crossings and intersections prior to opening the line.

The R Line is scheduled to open in late 2016.