Life-Saving Systems to Protect Track Workers in a Distracted World

Protran Technology Provides Railroad Agencies with Specific Safety Solutions


We are living in the age of distraction and railroad workers are no exception. As agencies realize their vulnerabilities, they are seeking reliable safety solutions to mitigate the cause of human errors — before they prove fatal.

Railroad agencies want safety systems that offer a reliable advanced warning to the track workers of a train or on-track-equipment approaching the work zone. Providing advanced warning systems as a secondary measure to protect track workers while they perform their job duties, is of the utmost importance. Utilizing a system from an experienced safety solutions technology company is the key to successful implementation.



Ranging Protracker Railway Worker Protection System


Utilizing Protran Technology’s Ranging Protracker System, both personnel and train fleet are outfitted with Protran equipment so that the worker will receive an alarm when a train is approaching, and the train operator receives an alarm that they are approaching workers ahead on the tracks. This sophisticated technology includes a user-friendly display screen that provides the train operator the distance they are away from a worker and allows the worker to communicate with the train that they are in a position of safety. When combined with appropriate operating rules these systems virtually eliminate all close calls.

One of the many benefits of the Ranging Protracker is the ease of use. Daily set-up is virtually automatic as the system turns on when the train is powered up and the workers wearing the devices are always protected. The initial installation for this system is very simple and can be integrated into any existing fleet or new build of transit vehicles. This system is low maintenance and simple to use; training for both the operator and the track worker is quick and easy to fully understand the functionality.


The Ranging Protracker safety system is compiled of four main components:

  • Ranging Train Mounted Device
  • Portable Warning Horn & Light + Repeater
  • Personal Alert Device (PAD)
  • Flagger Device


The Protran Technology Ranging Protracker train device is designed to be mounted in the cab of a train utilizing the custom Protracker Antenna Kit. The train operator will be audibly and visually alerted of personnel near the train tracks who are wearing the Protracker Personal Alert Devices (PAD).

The cab-mounted device provides the train operator with a large screen display in which they receive distance-to-worker information and confirmation that a worker has received the train approach warning. This system requires the railway worker to “confirm” they are clear of the train and indicate to the train operator that they may proceed. If the worker does not indicate they are clear, the operator can stop at an agency pre-determined distance.

The Portable Warning Horn & Light (PWH&L) is placed at the beginning of the work zone where it can be seen and heard by the work crew. The Portable Warning Horn & Light device gives an audible and visual alarm to the workers when a train/vehicle is approaching. This device will be activated automatically by the Ranging Protracker train mounted unit and can also be activated manually using the Flagger Device. In long work zones or areas of high-speed trains, multiple Portable Warning Horn & Light devices can be spread out along the work zone to repeat the warning signal from either the Ranging Protracker train mounted unit or Flagger Unit.

The Personal Alert Device (PAD) is worn by the track worker to provide an audible and visual advanced warning to the worker of the train approaching the work zone. The Ranging Protracker system detects workers on the tracks who are wearing the Personal Alert Device (and Flagger Device) and will provide ample time for workers to clear to a place of safety. The PAD (and Flagger) device will communicate with the cab-mounted train operator device and confirm to the train operator that the worker has received the warning alarm and it is safe to proceed.



The Flagger Device is utilized by the person acting as the Flagger / Watchman / Lookout or the Employee in Charge. This device functions the same as the Personal Alert Device worn by the track workers but has one additional feature: a manual ALERT button. The ALERT button allows the Flagger / Watchman to be able to manually alert all the PWH&L and PADs in the work zone of an approaching train or other on-track vehicle or any other emergency event that would require a warning notification to the crew.



Ranging Protracker Railway Worker Protection System 


The Ranging Protracker Railway Worker Protection system provides workers with ample time to clear to a place of safety and offers configurable alarm parameters: distance-based alarms or time-based alarms, as well as discernible “second train” alarms. This system enhances an agency’s existing safety procedures utilizing GPS and ranging radio technology with multiple interfaces such as Ethernet, RS232, and RS485.

The Ranging Protracker System provides data logging of all alert and detection data to improve an agency’s data collection capabilities and can be used to validate existing procedures and assist in incident investigations (near misses, accidents, etc).

Protran Technology offers reliable Railway Worker Protection systems that are easy to implement from installation to everyday use with low maintenance that easily fit into any agency’s standard operating procedures. Having a system with the flexibility to be configured to meet the unique operating environment is important and necessary to be effective. These tools provide advanced warning to operators and track workers to help mitigate accidents, save lives and provide a better sense of well-being for workers.


For more information and to learn how a system can be configured for your unique operating environment, visit

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