The growing need for increased mobility, especially in urban areas, is creating a strong demand for intelligent rail infrastructure that can scale quickly to handle peak volumes, without compromising on safety and security. This is adding to the challenges that transport authorities and operators already face from evolving technological, political, economic, and environmental factors.
Let’s take a look at the three important challenges that the industry cannot afford to ignore and how to overcome them:
#1 Aging rail systems impacting operational efficiency and agility: Aging rail systems crippled by legacy and complex IT applications make it difficult to share data across the organization. Moreover, legacy systems are incapable of scaling to accommodate the growth in demand that is expected in the near future. Given that today’s commuters prefer rapid and smooth transit, frequent network failures and system outages in aging rail systems can negatively impact customer experience and retention. Rail companies must therefore build smarter rail signaling systems by embracing new technologies aimed at integrating and analyzing real-time rail network information and enhancing operational agility.
#2 Tighter safety and security regulations mandating stringent compliance: Even as rail companies struggle to meet capacity and congestion related challenges, there is a growing need to make rail networks safer by preventing accidents and ensuring compliance with tighter regulatory standards. This requires rail companies to install advanced signaling systems such as positive train control and communication-based train control (CBTC) systems across the signaling lifecycle. These systems enable seamless interoperability of all rail systems, integration of network components such as Wi-Fi, GPS, and radio stations, and constantly relay critical information such as train speed and switch positions in real-time. Advanced rail signaling systems leverage next-generation technologies to analyze data and enable predictive maintenance, while making train travel safer by preventing accidents and collisions.
#3 Workforce and skills shortage impacting future capacity: Next-generation rail projects require the support of a skilled workforce and this is where the rail industry finds itself staring at a huge gap – especially in the electrification and signaling (E&S) domain. Industry experts predict that 11% of the current rail workforce in track, signaling and telecommunications, electrification and plant, and traction and rolling stock could retire as early as 2018. Consider this in light of the high levels of investment being planned in rail projects to accommodate the growing population, and the gravity of skills shortage in rail engineering becomes clearer. Tapping into government support and funding as well as leveraging partnerships with experienced service providers will play a key role in bridging this gap.
Partner with a trusted engineering solutions provider for on-schedule, on-budget execution
At a time when rail companies are working against multiple odds, outsourcing signaling design and engineering across all project stages holds significant promise in achieving customizable and scalable output for sustained success.
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