Posted: 14 December 2012 | | No comments yet
New technology that could boost the capacity of the network…
New technology that could boost the capacity of the network and allow operators to run more trains, more often, more efficiently have been unveiled this week.
The Rail Technical Strategy (RTS), unveiled at the British Library yesterday, maps out opportunities to transform the network over the next 30 years.
The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) and Network Rail have joined with the RSSB and the rest of the industry in the Technical Strategy Leadership Group (TSLG) in preparing a strategy to make the most of existing technologies and foster new ideas in areas which have the potential to transfer technology from other sectors to railway applications – including nanotechnology.
Michael Roberts, ATOC Chief Executive, said: “The recent growth in passenger journeys and satisfaction heralds a bright future for rail. By harnessing technology, rail can go further in providing an attractive, affordable and green way to travel.
“The refreshed Rail Technical Strategy helps us do that by setting out a whole-industry view on the key technical opportunities and on the vital need to stimulate innovation in the railways.”
Steve Yianni, Network Rail’s technical director and the chair of the TSLG, said: “We cannot work on one part of the system without affecting another, so we know that our approach has to be holistic, from the way the track relates to the trains and the trains to the signalling.
“By working together as an industry we have already unlocked opportunities for innovation – and new funding – and the potential to develop more innovative approaches to running the railway has been recognised.”
Examples of technology the Railway Technical Strategy (RTS) sees as having an impact include the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), an in-cab signalling system that Network Rail and ATOC are working together to deliver with RSSB and the rest of the industry as a whole.
Lineside signalling maintenance costs £100m a year and by enabling traffic management to move inside the trains, and reducing the number of control centres, a large cost saving can be made, while maintaining and improving upon safety and capacity.
Another key driver of greater efficiency and reliability identified by the RTS is preventative maintenance.
Network Rail has been developing automated methods of lineside inspection, including plain line pattern recognition, and has also been further developing remote asset monitoring. Similarly, around 40 % of trains run by operators in Great Britain are already equipped with diagnostic technology which allows the units to detect potential faults as they develop.
In terms of the customer experience, operators are already exploring ways that smart ticketing could offer more flexible fares and offer a better a deal for passengers and taxpayers.
Like other retailers, train companies are offering people new ways to buy tickets to reflect changing lifestyles and make the most of new technology. In the last five years, tickets sold via the internet have more than trebled, those bought at ticket machines have nearly doubled while those sold at ticket offices have declined by just over a third.
The RTS also calls for a greater spread of 25kv electrification – due in the next 10 years on the Midland main line and the Great Western main line – including bringing it to areas currently fitted with third rail electrification, to take advantage of greater transmission efficiency and provide enhanced capacity.
With greater automation and the development of new technology, Britain’s trains will keep moving as more and more people find their way back to rail.
Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), Network Rail
Michael Roberts, Steve Yianni