The Federal Railroad Administration has embarked on a pilot project to demonstrate the feasibility of using and linking defect detector systems for rail vehicles across North America. The goal of this project is to develop a national database that will enable the railroad industry to engage in predictive maintenance. These detectors measure equipment performance parameters such as the forces between the wheel and rails. The Integrated Railway Remote Information Service or InteRRIS™, an Internet-based system designed and developed by Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI), was used to aggregate, interrogate, and store data from field-deployed detector systems. TTCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads (AAR). A key task of this program was the determination and implementation of appropriate access to a National Rail Corridor Vehicle Performance Database (VPD). The VPD can draw performance-based data from InteRRIS™ for the FRA and the railroads responsible for the safe operation of cars and locomotives as needed to enable effective performance-based safety monitoring. The VPD has been populated with data from a number of Truck Performance Detectors (TPD) and Wheel Impact Load Detectors (WILD™) in order to capture representative and geographically diverse traffic from freight, mixed freight/commuter/passenger lines, and hazardous materials lines. Both the AAR and FRA have a mutual interest in promoting the implementation of performance-based maintenance. It is hoped that this detector network and associated national database reduces the need for visual inspections on cars and locomotives, thereby focusing more efforts on preventive action and making repairs. This could greatly enhance the efficiency with which railroads make critical repairs in a timely manner. Such tools, with detector data in a central database, should they prove feasible, could eventually lead to the development of performance-based inspection standards.

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