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How innovation is keeping the rail industry on track

In the first of two guest writer features, David Muse, Chief Technical Architect at Petards Rail, talks innovation – from its impact on the rail industry, to the groundbreaking Automatic Selective Door Operation (ASDO) system he helped to develop.

Innovation has always been critically important in the rail industry. And now more than ever, it’s key to addressing the challenges ahead – from climate change to increased demand.

Innovation is something we feel strongly about at Petards Rail. It’s at the heart of everything we do, and our approach is deeply rooted in collaboration and forward-thinking.

My own passion for technology led me to become Petards Rail’s Chief Technical Architect, an achievement I’m immensely proud of. As part of the senior leadership team, I’m privileged to help steer our company in terms of both software and hardware solutions.

Below, I’ll explain why the rail industry shouldn’t be afraid to innovate – and how cutting-edge solutions (like Petards Rails’ Automatic Selective Door Operation (ASDO) system) can make our railways safer, smarter, greener, and more efficient.

What innovation brings to the rail industry

The rail industry was built on innovative technologies; even steel rails and the flanged wheel were once considered cutting-edge. Today, strict regulatory requirements and cultural resistance to change often stymie innovation – but embracing new technological developments could help the industry to overcome some of its most pressing challenges.

These include:

  • Increasing efficiency and capacity: Innovative solutions help increase the efficiency of train operations, reduce delays, and improve scheduling. Think better traffic management systems, predictive maintenance using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, and improvements in logistics and planning. Greater efficiency can lead to increased capacity, allowing more trains to operate on the same tracks without increased risk of accidents.
  • Environmental sustainability: Already one of the most environmentally friendly transport modes, rail could further reduce its carbon footprint by embracing innovation. Electrification of train lines, energy-efficient trains, and the use of renewable energy sources are all areas where innovation can make a significant impact. And reducing emissions is crucial in the context of global efforts to combat climate change.
  • Enhancing safety for passengers and staff: Advancements in signalling systems, automatic train control, and real-time monitoring systems can prevent accidents and ensure the safe operation of trains, enhancing safety for passengers and employees.
  • Cost reduction: Innovations in maintenance, operations, and management can lead to significant cost savings for rail companies. These innovations include the use of advanced materials for longer-lasting infrastructure, automation to reduce labour costs, and AI for more efficient resource allocation.
  • Improving passenger experience: From comfortable and modern train designs, improved connectivity and onboard services, and real-time information systems for passengers, to streamlined ticketing processes, innovation can greatly enhance the passenger experience.
  • Competitiveness: In many regions, the rail industry faces competition from other modes of transportation (e.g air and road.) Innovation can help rail remain a competitive option by improving safety, speed, efficiency, and overall service quality.
  • Regulatory compliance: As governments around the world impose stricter regulations on safety, emissions, and noise, innovation helps the rail industry comply with these evolving standards.

In short, innovative technologies – when carefully designed and rigorously tested – could help the rail industry to rise to the challenges of the future.

Credit: Petards Rail

Petards Rails’ ASDO system: enhancing safety and operational flexibility

Our Automatic Selective Door Operation (ASDO) system is a case in point. Designed to enhance passenger safety and operational flexibility, this innovative system is particularly beneficial for operators looking to manage longer trains on routes with shorter platforms.

By automatically determining which doors should remain closed at each stop, ASDO (which is accredited to SIL 2 standards) ensures safety and efficiency – especially during peak travel times, when longer trains are deployed more frequently.

Key features include:

  • Integration with multiple data sources – and, if required, with current track infrastructure.
  • Fully autonomous and vehicle-based, eliminating the need for costly beacons or balises on the track – which in turn reduces installation time, cost, and safety risks for track workers.
  • Can also be extended to provide Correct Side Door Enable CSDE via configuration only, with no additional hardware required.
  • Remotely controlled and managed through Petards Rail’s back-office software, eyeBos (which offers configurability and ease of deployment).

Petards Rail’s ASDO solution represents a significant technological advancement, offering a combination of safety, flexibility, and sophistication. It’s a prime example of how digital technology can be used to improve the efficiency and safety of rail transport.

For more information, visit https://petardsrailsolutions.com.

Or, to learn more about the company’s ASDO solution, download its new brochure.

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