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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 Innovation in Railway: Locomotive driving cabins. 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.

Semi-trailer transporting wagons, hopper type freight cars and train marshalling systems are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are conveyor type loading vehicles and relative location monitoring, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the railway industry

Locomotive driving cabins is a key innovation area in railway

A locomotive driving cabin, also known as the train driver cabin or compartment, houses the train driver, control console, and a fireman or second man (if any). A train may have either one or two driver cabins at front or both ends of the locomotive. Modern locomotive driving cabins are designed to provide a comfortable environment with better internal and external visibility and a desk layout that allows drivers to stay focused and perform their day-to-day tasks smoothly and respond to unexpected events swiftly.

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 locomotive driving cabins.

Key players in locomotive driving cabins – 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 locomotive driving cabins

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Siemens 53 Unlock Company Profile
Alstom 29 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 22 Unlock Company Profile
Sofibol 18 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 16 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 13 Unlock Company Profile
SNCF Group 12 Unlock Company Profile
Bombardier 11 Unlock Company Profile
CRRC Group 10 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Siemens is the leading patent filer in locomotive driving cabins. The patents filed by the company are related to the arrangement or disposition of driving cabin and rail-guided traction vehicles featuring two front-arranged driver's cabins with a machine room located between the two cabins.

The rolling stock manufactured by Siemens, including the Velaro class high-speed trains and the Avenio family of light rail vehicles (LRVs), come with fully air-conditioned driver’s cabins that feature ergonomic design integrating modern consoles, clearly arranged control panels, large displays, comfortable and variably adjustable seats, and optional external video system. The driver’s cabs are designed to offer an unobstructed view of the track ahead.

Other leading innovators in locomotive driving cabins include Alstom, Mitsubishi Electric, and Sofibol.

In terms of application diversity, Mitsubishi Electric leads the pack, followed by Sofibol and Alstom. By geographic reach, Sofibol is the leading company, followed by Toshiba and Hitachi.

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.