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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: Railway traffic navigation 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 wagons, 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 Internet of Things in the railway industry

Railway traffic navigation system is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Railway traffic navigation system utilises the real time train location information to assist in dynamic planning, execution, and control of the rail traffic. Viewing all operating trains on a single map, the system helps to set and release routes and guide train movements in a safe and efficient manner.

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 railway traffic navigation system.

Key players in railway traffic navigation 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 railway traffic navigation system

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Siemens 83 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 31 Unlock Company Profile
Stella Vermogensverwaltungs 27 Unlock Company Profile
Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies 25 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 22 Unlock Company Profile
Knorr Bremse Systeme fur Schienenfahrzeuge 21 Unlock Company Profile
Alstom 14 Unlock Company Profile
Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt 10 Unlock Company Profile
CRRC Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Bombardier 8 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 8 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 8 Unlock Company Profile
Deutsche Bahn 6 Unlock Company Profile
Quantum Engineering 6 Unlock Company Profile
Apartment Investment and Management 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Siemens is the leading patent filer in railway traffic navigation system. The patents filed by the company in this space are related to methods and devices for determining the position, monitoring the operation and running stability, and ensuring the signalling protection of rail vehicles, as well as radio-based communication devices for railway traffic navigation.

From its Airlink cab radios, multiband antennas, driver control panels and train-borne condition monitoring (TBCM) to Trainguard communications-based train control (CBTC) and Controlguide operations control system (OCS), Siemens Mobility offers a wide range of equipment, infrastructure, and solutions to increase the reliability, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of railway traffic navigation systems.

The company’s Controlguide OCS operations control technology allows for automatic train tracking, automatic route setting, early detection of conflict situations and flexible adaptation to timetable changes, and smooth and efficient train planning and capacity management, while displaying all information about current rail operations on a single map and in real-time.

Other leading innovators in railway traffic navigation system include General Electric, Stella Vermogensverwaltungs, and Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies.

In terms of application diversity, CRRC Group leads the pack, followed by Qualcomm and Bombardier. By geographic reach, Hitachi is the leading company, followed by Apartment Investment and Management, and Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies.

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.