Amtrak Acela Workers Protected with Castell

Exchange key interlock system for power isolation at a high speed rail maintenance facility
Chicago, Illinois (January 5, 2012) – During a recent upgrade, an exchange key, power isolation interlock system from industrial safety specialist Castell was installed at the Amtrak Southampton Maintenance Facility to ensure worker safety during maintenance and repair operations.


The South Boston facility serves the High Speed Rail Acela Express System and is a major terminal facility for trains running between Washington D.C., New York city and Boston. The Acela is the fastest domestic train system, so following safe, efficient maintenance and operation procedures is critical to its smooth operation. Castell safety equipment protects workers from dangerous high voltage operations, while keeping the trains running efficiently.

With 25kV power overhead, personnel must follow a predetermined sequence of tasks before beginning maintenance operations to ensure safe working conditions. As part of a recent overall facility upgrade, Castell’s US sales partner, Tapeswitch Corporation, was invited to engineer a replacement for its current combination of interlocks and panels from multiple manufacturers. Castell and Tapeswitch Corporation provided a fully integrated system, consisting of Castell’s durable, exchange key interlocks and power isolation panel, an effective solution to streamline and secure safe maintenance operations.

When a train pulls into the maintenance facility, the release of an electrical power isolation interlock confirms power disconnection, trapping an exchanged key until the enabling solenoid is de-energized. The power is safely controlled until the overhead conductor rail has been retracted and is no longer a hazard to the maintenance workers requiring access to dangerous areas.

The system then releases exchange keys that activate 480V maintenance power panels and a maintenance lift. Additional exchange keys released energize the panels that run onboard systems for test and repair. When work is completed, the process is reversed, releasing the key controlling the power and allowing power to be returned, so the train can leave the facility safely.

Castell’s durable products perform well in challenging locations like the busy Amtrak maintenance facility. Typical light duty locking devices can become plugged in dirty environments. Castell uses a lock mechanism with sealing key and cap to keep out dust and debris, extending product life. This design, coupled with Castell’s robust, large handled key, guards against failures. The key is capable of transmitting much more torque to the lock than a standard pin tumbler key for ease of operation and longevity of the interlocks.

Tapeswitch Corporation is the exclusive sales partner for Castell products in the US. Its national sales force is available for full demonstrations of Castell’s complete interlock products and systems, especially with main or control power isolation. Many of its models accept optional solenoid interlocks.

“With our full demonstration, the engineers were able to visualize the steps in the process and appreciate the strength and quality of Castell’s products,” explained Tapeswitch Corporation Sales Representative Dave Jackson. “The system we implemented was a unique and complete solution, which allowed them to control multiple operations, while ensuring reliable safety. It has been in place since March and has been well received by the Amtrak maintenance personnel.”

Also available from Tapeswitch Corporation are Castell’s mechanical and electromechanical interlocks for access control and main power isolation; solenoid controlled interlocks; motion sensing and key exchange unit products. Tapeswitch Corporation chose to partner with Castell for the durability, reliability and quality of its safety interlocks that provide area guarding, machine guarding and personnel protection.

To learn more about Castell’s safety products and to schedule a hands-on demonstration, contact Tapeswitch Corporation at 1-800-234-8273 or visit

About Tapeswitch Corporation
For over 50 years, Tapeswitch Corporation has been a leading manufacturer of safety, sensing, and signaling products, engineering systems and solutions for many industries throughout the world. Their complete product lines include switches, pressure sensitive safety mats, safety edges, sensing bumpers, light curtains, and safety interface controllers for complete systems. They custom engineer safety products and systems to fit customer applications.

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