Railway systems play an important role in the economy and civilization of any country. Modernization of railways, development of technologically advanced and environmental protection infrastructure is one of the top priorities of many countries across the world. Developments continue in many areas of the railway system such as electrification, safety, track fault detection, and others.
Recognizing the need to conserve the environment, railway authorities are electrifying the entire system and introducing innovative methods to achieve the goals in terms of environmental protection. In addition, universities and private firms are introducing innovative security systems that are backed by technology. These systems are useful for track fault detection and prevention. They help prevent accidents in relation to derailment and help avoid catastrophic damage. In addition, various methods have been implemented to ensure the safety of railways and passengers.
The demand for safe, advanced and innovative railway systems will increase in the years to come. As per the report published by Allied Market Research, the global railway system market $37.36 billion is projected to be generated by 2026. Following are some of the activities that take place around the world.
Electrification of railway systems is one of the important steps towards environmental protection. Many countries and their governments are starting new projects in the next few years to achieve environmental objectives. However, some municipal bodies have already electrified their areas. The North Eastern Railway (NER) of Indian Railways has already electrified about 75 per cent of the routes. It is seen that the total cost saved after electrification of main roads is about Rs.361 crores. In addition, the region is expected to be 100 percent electrified by the end of 2022.
NER has become one of the popular sectors offering fast, safe, comfortable and reliable railway transport service in 2021. NER also employed Capacity Utilization Factor (CUF) based solar monitoring system in 2021. This resulted in 26 percent more production. Solar power compared to last year. The Railway Authority will take various initiatives in the coming year to achieve 100% electrification.
Keeping in view the environment protection and electrification, railway authorities are taking various steps towards achieving optimum safety level on railway lines by taking into account the safety measures. Researchers at Loughborough University and the University of Sheffield developed an on-board system to detect leaves on lines. Researchers from both universities collaborated with engineering company Perpetum to develop systems that would determine low adhesion hazards. After the leaves are detected in real time, an updated map will be generated about the potential hazards. Minimum adhesion level needs to be maintained to ensure safety, minimize delay and offer optimum traction performance.
Dr. Chris Ward, a lead researcher at Loughborough University, highlighted that low adhesion events adversely affect the entire railway system. Huge investments have been made in cleaning rail heads, controlling vegetation along rail lines, and detecting potential hazards. The newly developed system ensures accuracy in locating low adhesion locations on rail lines. This will enable rail officials across the UK to respond rapidly upon detection. Various actions such as rail head treatment and defensive driving can be performed to ensure safety. Detection systems and algorithms will be used to address the issue of low adhesion on rail lines. Network Rail will conduct trials for the system and take further steps regarding implementation.
The trend continues with the introduction of innovative systems for track inspection, tracking and maintenance along with automated track inspection systems. ENSCO Rail launched Ultrasonic Rail Flow System (URFS). The company described the system as one of the most effective systems for detecting and preventing broken rail tracks. It aims to reduce derailments and catastrophic damage to railways through the implementation of its technologies and skill sets. Its URFS will prevent derailment, comply with regulatory requirements and offer safe and efficient operation for the Railways. The automated system will enhance the accuracy of true-positive detection and measure rail condition for predicting and preventing rail track faults.
When it comes to safety, railway authorities are overcoming various issues with innovative solutions. The presence of fog creates challenges in the smooth operation of railways and causes delays. The Central Railway (CR) authority of the Indian Railways decided to address the issue of fog with the installation of yellow-black painted metal poles. It will assist drivers and motormen during winters. These poles will be installed 100-300 meters before the signal pole. These poles will give information about the density of fog. If these poles are not visible, the station master may conclude that the fog density is too high. They can then warn to train drivers and motormen about fog conditions. This will ensure safety and prevent catastrophic damage.