With correct rail signaling and train control systems, rail transport operators can prevent train collisions, monitor movement of trains on tracks, divide tracks into segments known as blocks into several sections.
Mines need a robust rail infrastructure to transport cargo to and from ports seamlessly. Yet, there is fear, rightly so, that mining companies might not benefit from the next phase of the commodities boom, unless countries make necessary investments to improve their railway infrastructure. There is a general sentiment that infrastructure can make train operations more functional, safety and reliable. So, where do they start from?
An article published on a railway technology portal, Industrial IOT, on train signaling and control systems has a plausible answer.
The first priority should be improving the rail signaling and train control systems to prevent train collisions, monitor movement of trains on tracks, divide tracks into segments known as blocks into several sections, it posits. In point of fact, there is no way the modern train operation can go without signaling. Without signaling, far fewer trains could move through each block.
In a nutshell, signaling is central to efficient and safe operations, limiting train speeds and automatically stopping trains when required for safety.
The modern signal system has remodeled the management of train operations. Likened to a pyramid, the modern signal system has three levels:
- The first level is the trackside signals of automatic block signal system.
- The next level is cab signals, which duplicate the indications of the trackside signals. Just like trackside signals, cab signals do not to take control of the train in the event the engineer fails to do so.
- The third level is automatic train control (ATC), which automatically slows or stops the train if the engineer fails to comply with speed reductions required by the cab signal.
What are notable technological innovations and global megatrends?
The rail signaling space has been undergoing a number of notable ground-breaking changes, mainly:
- Integrated signaling
A global increase in urbanisation has created a growing demand for infrastructure, rolling stock, and integrated signaling, particularly in the emerging countries.
- Wireless systems
More traditional signaling systems were based on RFID along the train track, but wireless train-to-ground signaling is becoming more popular in both railroad and metro systems.
Increasing standardisation of rail signaling solutions is one of the most important trends impacting the market today. Standardisation allows suppliers to develop core, standards-based global architectures that both enable the interoperability necessary to meet local safety requirements and provide a common, reliable platform for building local solutions.
When demand for rail transportation increases, railway signaling system manufacturers experience growth and ARC expects that the rail transportation industry will continue to grow.
ARC Advisory Group recently published a new comprehensive global Rail Signaling and Train Control Systems Market Research study. In its conclusion, ARC expects demand for rail transportation to increase and lead to more demand for rail signaling systems. The ARC market study discusses the current market performances, related technologies, business trends, leading supplier profiles, and provides five-year global industry and regional forecasts from 2017-2021.
Something to mull about
Perhaps something to reflect upon – someone, a member of the public, posed a thought-provoking remark during one of the recent, Africa Rail Sector conference: “We are talking about always rolling stock leasing. Why don’t we give attention to the infrastructure, the railway lines that the locomotives are going to use? Are we not making the mistake of buying a Ferrari to drive on a potholed road?”
To say that there was a deafening silence would be an understatement. Perhaps it was a dose of reality check amid the euphoria with massive investment in rolling stock leasing.