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The railway industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for high efficiency, reduced emissions and enhanced passenger experience, and growing importance of technologies such as automation, advanced train control and signalling, and smart monitoring and surveillance systems. In the last three years alone, there have been over 46,000 patents filed and granted in the railway industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Internet of Things in Railway: Centralised train control system. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

10+ innovations will shape the railway industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the railway industry using innovation intensity models built on over 9,000 patents, there are 10+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Loading/unloading device integrated wagon is one of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are railway traffic monitoring system and centralised train control system, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for IoT in the railway industry

Centralised train control system is a key innovation area in IoT

The centralised traffic control system (CTC) is an integrated solution to control and manage the railway traffic from a single location. The system utilises a centralised train dispatcher that controls wayside station interlockings and train movements, improving the traffic regularity and optimising the railway operation within a designated territory.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established railway companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of centralised train control system.

Key players in centralised train control system – a disruptive innovation in the railway industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to centralised train control system

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Siemens 142 Unlock Company Profile
Traffic Control Technology 29 Unlock Company Profile
Alstom 14 Unlock Company Profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 11 Unlock Company Profile
BYD 10 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 10 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway Signal & Communication 8 Unlock Company Profile
China National Railway Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
Bombardier 5 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 5 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 5 Unlock Company Profile
Westinghouse Brake & Signal Holdings 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Siemens is the leading patent filer in centralised train control system. From automated trackside control and obstacle detection to traffic awareness beacon systems and transponders, Siemens continues to innovate in centralised train control system and equipment.

Some of the major train control solutions offered by the company include Trainguard MT, a versatile and modular communications-based train control (CBTC) system for automating and optimising mass transit operations, as well as Trainguard 100, Trainguard 200 and Trainguard 100 CBTC solutions for different European Train Control System (ETCS) applications.

Other leading innovators in centralised train control system include Traffic Control Technology, Alstom, and Huawei.

In terms of application diversity, Chinese company BYD leads the pack, followed by China Railway Signal & Communication (CRSC) and Caterpillar. By geographic reach, Caterpillar is the leading company, followed by Thales and Alstom.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the railway industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Railway.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.