Call for Participation: RTSC Standards Continue through COVID

15 June, 2021 | Member Updates, Railroad & Mass Transit
Cara Levy, VTS Vice President—Land Transportation
The Land Transportation Division of VTS manages the development of standards for rail passenger vehicles, trains and systems, automatic train control, and electrical power distribution systems for the United States and Canada.

This work is accomplished through the Rail Transportation Standards Committee (RTSC), which consists of four subcommittees as listed below.

The subcommittees have continued to develop and maintain standards, recommended practices, and guides for the transit and rail industry virtually during the worldwide COVID-19 travel and work restrictions.


Overhead Contact Systems (OCS)
The OCS develops standards through consensus of key industry representatives from the private and public sectors. These standards are adopted and adhered to by the rail and trolley bus industry.

Traction Power Systems (TPS)
The TPS develops standards, recommending practices, and guides, coordinating with APTA and AREMA. The TPS provides up-to-date information on professional activities of interest to rail and transit industry within IEEE, and solicits recommendations, ideas and suggestions that aim to improve the industry practices.

CBTC/Signals
The CBTC/Signals is establishing a set of performance and functional requirements necessary for enhancing performance, availability, operations, and train protection using a CBTC system. Additional standards in Train Control are also maintained.

Railcar Transit Vehicles (RTV)
The RTV is responsible for standards intended to provide a set of uniform design, application, and test requirements for rail vehicles.


Established in 2002, the TPS and OCS subcommittees have been actively producing standards since their inception. The subcommittees maintain the published standards to ensure that they continue to be useful in industry applications, and that they do not expire after ten years.

These standards are consensus-based, and are intended to improve and supplement existing standards or cover new areas useful to the Transit and Rail industry. The subcommittees’ work relies on a core of volunteers, namely the Chairs and Vice-chairs of the Working Groups.

Subcommittee members are professionals from our industry, and include representatives from railway agencies, consultants, vendors, manufacturers, and suppliers. The Subcommittees coordinate with APTA and AREMA, and within IEEE, provide up-to-date information on professional activities of interest to rail and transit industry, and make suggestions and recommendations that may improve industry practices.

Considering the ongoing public health risks and travel impacts posed by the pandemic, the committees are not holding in-person meetings at this time. The subcommittees have been diligent in meeting virtually, to continue the crucial work of standards development. In-person meetings will resume as soon as it is safe and feasible. To participate, please contact me; for more information visit the TPSSC website.

The Land Transportation Division is active in the Joint Rail Conference (JRC), the only academic rail conference in North America. JRC 2021 was held virtually this year, 20—21 April (download the JRC 2021 Program). IEEE has been a sponsor of JRC for the last 98 years, and we look forward to continuing our participation in JRC 2022.

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