Using Technology To Enhance Rail Safety.
13 January 23
US rail operators look to the cloud to proactively reduce risks.
As rail-based freight activity continues to rise* and transit passenger numbers continue to climb towards pre-pandemic levels the use of cloud-based data capture to prevent accidents at Grade Crossings is attracting a lot of interest from US railroad operators.
The ever-increasing sophistication of railroad technology is enabling companies to become more proactive about enhanced rail safety, drilling down into big data using AI algorithms to predict failures and take pre-emptive action.
Benefits are multi-pronged; as well as improving trackside safety and reducing incident numbers, operators gain greater overall visibility of their assets so they can improve efficiencies across their network.
Rail safety improves, but there’s still a long way to go.
The concerted effort by railroad operators and governments to improve safety across U.S. rail networks is paying dividends. Train accidents were down 33% between 2000 and 2021, while the rail employee injury rate reached an all-time low in 2020, the Association of American Railroads report.
Grade crossing collisions in 2020 declined 39% from 2000**, thanks partly to the hundreds of millions of dollars that railroad operators invest each year in grade crossing maintenance and improvements, as well as new technologies.
Nevertheless, preventable accidents remain stubbornly high; there were more than 8,000 accidents and incidents on U.S. railways in 2021, including more than 750 fatalities – on average, someone is hit by a train in the U.S. every three hours.
Reducing grade crossing collisions.
The IoT is transforming the way companies manage rail assets, improving safety outcomes and operational efficiencies. Rail operators are using technology solutions to capture large quantities of data from across their networks and transfer it to the cloud, working in partnership with software companies to track asset usage and distil actionable data that identifies patterns and irregularities.
Railroad technology advancements over the past two decades have given railroads more visibility over asset performance than ever before.
Utilizing data loggers to reduce the likelihood of collisions at grade crossings is a notable example. The devices collect and deliver all live crossing activity from a specific location, providing an ever-expanding database that can both support incident investigations and predict failures so preventative measures can be implemented. Benefits include:
Reduced safety risks.
Improved operational standards.
Better understanding of incident causes.
Reduced need for site visits.
The ability to discover and resolve issues before they become problems.
Whilst grade separation remains the only way to completely remove the risks associated with a grade crossing, it may not be practical to grade separate all crossings. The actionable insights provided by remotely accessible data loggers can be a highly cost-effective alternative to building a bridge.
Advancements in railroad automation and AI have made it possible for rail networks to invest in cost-effective technology that offers both safety and operational benefits. Railroad operators who have already invested heavily in enhancing rail safety now have a powerful new tool to use.
RailComm, a Tracsis company, is the leading provider of software-based railroad automation. With a proven track record of increasing efficiency and safety, we manage 24,000 devices monitoring over 60,000 assets in the rail industry worldwide through the Centrix platform. Contact us to discuss enhancing safety on your rail network.