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William W. Hay Seminar: Canadian Pacific and the Challenges of Crossing the Canadian Rockies

Event Type
Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC)
Dec 4, 2020   12:30 pm  
David Thurston | Canadian Pacific Railway
No Charge for Non-PDH | $25 for PDHs
Emma Ehrenhart
Originating Calendar
CEE Seminars and Conferences

Abstract: Canadian Pacific’s mainline through the Canadian Rockies has been its greatest operational challenge. Over the years, CP has invested in infrastructure and line relocations to mitigate these operational challenges. Recently, CP has started a new Multi-Year Plan to rebuild the tunnel systems over Rogers Pass as the most recent example of this. This work will not only prolong the life of these systems, but will introduce technology not known at the time of construction. These new systems will enable CP to greatly reduce maintenance cost while improving reliability.


Dr. Thurston has been involved in systems engineering, emphasizing design, construction and operations of railroad and transit systems for over 40 years.  He received a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Clemson University, a MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering, George Mason University, and a PhD in the School of Engineering at Temple University. He is currently Chief Engineer – Train Control for Canadian Pacific Railway. 

In addition, he is a Registered Professional Engineer in eight states and one Provence, an Honorary Fellow and Chairman of the North American Section in the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers. He is a Senior Member and Elected Board Member of the Vehicular Technology Society (VTS), Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He has previously served as Vice President of the Land Transportation Division of VTS. As a member of the IEEE Standards Association, Dr. Thurston is a standing member of Working Group 2 for Communications Based Train Control standards, and previously was the Chair of Working Group 25 responsible for the IEEE Standard 1698 – Guideline for Safe Braking Distance Calculations. Dr. Thurston has chaired the Joint Rail Conference twice, once in 2012 and again in 2019. A life member of AREMA, he is currently serving on three committees for Manuals of standard practice. He is currently Sub Committee Chair for Committee 39 - Positive Train Control Testing and Maintenance. In addition, he has sat on several Transportation Research Board Committees as part of the Transit Cooperative Research Program and served as a subject matter expert on applied research projects for rail and transit issues. Dr. Thurston has conducted research and development for Norfolk Southern Corporation at their Research and Test Facility in Alexandria, Virginia in non-contact rail gage and wear sensors deploying a system on Norfolk Southern’s track geometry vehicle. He received patent 4,915,504 for these efforts. He is also a member of several Association of American Railroads Advisory Groups for advanced technology including: Positive Train Control Life Cycle Management, Next Generation End of Train Devices, Energy Management, Quasi-Moving Block, Centralized Interlocking, and Alternate means of Broken Rail Detection. Dr Thurston has over 45 published papers or presentations on railway matters concentrating on Train Control and related issues.

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