May 18, 2021

These are the keys to the digitalization of rail transport | Innovation

These are the keys to the digitalization of rail transport | Innovation


The digital transformation is changing the competitive environment, almost all the limits of almost all industries. In the case of the transport sector, this is being carried out on four axes: transformation of the customer experience, transformation of operational processes, employee training and transformation of the business model. Part of the innovations that we hear today was incorporated by the railroad a long time ago, but the sector is moving towards new challenges, as shown by the new accelerator of startups that Renfe has launched, TrenLab, on three areas: digital mobility, digitalization of operations and logistics on demand.

New customer experience

The digitalization of services is transforming the customer experience. Currently, railway operators are working on setting up news models Of relationship with customers of logistics services and travelerswaiting simplicity and personalization. Digitization undoubtedly contributes to achieving those goals. It seems probable that we are heading towards a future with dynamic route planners, barrier-free access, wireless technologies, biometrics, ticket detection, and multi-sensor information systems. The Eva service, announced by Renfe a few months ago, includes some of these elements. The data analysis also joins the equation, with the objective of better understanding the clients and integrating the technology to facilitate or improve the purchasing process.

Changes in opandrativa

Safety is one of the values ​​inherent to rail transport, with very low accident rates. Today there is much talk about the connected and autonomous vehicle, something that in passenger rail transport has been a reality for many years. The sector has a redundant security, reinforced by the presence of the machinist. Spain, for example, has the largest number of kilometers of track with the communication system between the infrastructure and the safest train in the world, such as the ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System), the standard that the European Union seeks to make the whole of the European network more interoperable.

The ERMTS includes a wireless system that ensures data communication between train and track (GSM-R) and the so-called ETCS, an automatic train protection system (ATP) added to an interface for interlocks, which are the security systems for Operate track devices and signals that prevent incompatible movements to ensure safe movement.

In operational matters, there are also good opportunities in the use of technology for decision making. So much to optimize material graphics (the name used by railroad workers to refer to the working day of trains and locomotives) as for the assignment of personnel; in the digitization of some functions in workshops, improving their efficiency and productivity, in such a way that increases the availability and productivity of the trains, gathering data of its operation in real time that allows to perform predictors that minimize service interruptions.

More mobility and automation

There is the concept of mobility as a service, or MaaS in its acronym in English (mobility as a service), focused on the client along the whole chain of mobility. The aim is to offer the most efficient solution at any time by integrating data from various sources in the infrastructure and the city for easy and simple intermodality. The railroad going to integrar in an intuitive user interface that is consultedand on the mobile.

Another important aspect within the railway sector is the automated operation of trains, technology known as ATO by its acronym in English, a kind of autonomous train. It is a technology that has been used for decades in some metro lines, but it begins to provide benefits in more complex main lines, such as line A of the Parisian suburbs (RER), one of the most used metropolitan lines in the world. , or the next line that will cross London, Thameslink, grouping lines of the north with lines of the south and connecting them through a central tunnel of 8 kilometers. The project to incorporate an ATO system with a level 2 of ETCS (mentioned above) can allow from next December the capacity in the central section of the line to increase from 16 trains per direction and hour to 24, and even have room to reach 30.

There are also certain advantages that data optimization can bring to a freight logistics more adjusted to the demand, with more planning, tracking and shipping information for greater flexibility and more attractive prices.

This is a sponsored news produced by EL PAÍS RETINA

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