Improvements in Rail Systems
With the oldest rail system in the world, the UK has started a major upgrade of the network to move from the traditional infrastructure model to a railway system that can cope with increasing numbers of passengers. Since the mid-1990’s the passenger numbers have doubled.
New capacity is needed to be found within the existing infrastructure. This is where network rail has looked to new technology to support the expansion of the railways, by improvements to the signalling and train controls to add extra capacity to the existing network.
Improvements in Safety
The trackside security is being upgraded and the use of thermal imaging cameras instead of traditional CCTV systems is improving track safety by automatically advising when people are near the trackside or in tunnels, there are objects on the line, such as cars on rail crossings and any fires that may be around the network. The computerised system feeds into the other traffic management systems to advise that there may be delays or events that are affecting the network.
The traffic management system looks after all the trains on the network. As the system moves away from trackside signalling to in-cab signalling and connected driver advisory systems, the train driver can make better and safer decisions with increased information. This increases the capacity of the system, by giving detailed information on the block signalling system that places a safe distance between trains and gives smart options based on individual train information.
Automated Train Operations
New train engines will have automated train operations installed, creating an autopilot function for the train driver. The driver will be able to focus more on the safety and passenger experience. This is creating a path for the potential of driverless trains in the future, with automatic safety systems in place due to new wireless technology that communicates between the train and track. Smaller scale driverless rail systems have been successfully employed at airports for terminal transfers.