Wheelchair users often face challenges at stations and onboard trains, many of which go unnoticed or unchallenged. To assess the situation, last May the Rail Safety and Standards Board appointed transport consultancy ITP to carry out a survey into the unexpected movement of wheelchairs on rail station platforms. This follows ITP’s 2015 research into accessibility and safety for mobility scooter users travelling by UK rail. In this issue, we find out how ITP’s insights have helped to develop guidance and policies for rail staff assisting differently abled travellers, and what barriers still remain.

We also attend the World Smart City Expo in Barcelona to learn about rail’s role in future smart cities, profile the impact of the cross-country Brenner Base Tunnel, ask if Beijing will be the first city to master maglev technology, and hear about an eco project using recycled materials to produce ‘green’ sleepers.

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In this issue of Future Rail

Railway’s role in smart cities
Smart cities of the future will need world-class railways, subways and metros at their core. Rail supports economic booms, revitalises stagnant neighbourhoods and improves public health by lowering road traffic pollution. We attended this year’s World Smart City Expo in Barcelona to find out what’s at the forefront of city design.
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Under the surface of European rail freight
Far below the Brenner Pass in Austria, the longest underground railway connection in the world is being constructed. Costing €380m, building works will last until early 2019 and include 38km of tunnel excavation work. We take a look at this key project, financed by Austria, Italy and the European Union.
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Will maglev ever be mainstream?
Construction of the S1 Line in Beijing, China has moved into its final phase. The project is being touted as the first to demonstrate floating magnet maglev technology on a large scale. Will it be a success? We find out.
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Hydrogen-powered passenger rail
Alstom is making progress on its Coradia iLint train, the world’s first hydrogen-powered train, expected to launch in Germany this year. Offering zero carbon emissions and operating in near silence, could the train revolutionise rolling stock while improving air quality? We visit  the test facility to see how the iLint works and the impact of its deployment.
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Mobility first
Last May, transport consultancy ITP surveyed wheelchair users to understand the unexpected movement of wheelchairs on rail station platforms. This research follows the firm’s 2015 study into the accessibility and safety for mobility scooter users travelling by rail on the UK network. We find out how these insights have helped develop guidance and policies for rail staff, and what challenges still remain on the path to providing better rail access to wheelchair and mobility scooter users.
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Turning sleepers to solar
Italian company Greenrail produces railway sleepers using secondary raw materials, such as rubber from end-of-life tyres and plastic from urban waste. What’s more, the company is researching ways to integrate photovoltaic panels into the sleepers to turn each one into a solar power hub. We speak to Greenrail about this unique business model.
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In the next issue

Double-decker trains are out of reach for the UK, due to space restrictions, but a few new ideas seem to be gaining traction, one of which is the AeroLiner3000. We profile this innovative solution from Andreas Vogler Studios and ask, could double-decker trains make their UK debut in the near future?

In projects, we look at Columbia’s Bogotá metro line it finally gains funding for construction, take a culture trip across the world’s themed trains, and find out about the latest technologies and concepts for high-volume urban rail networks.

Plus, we learn about the importance of training first responders in dealing with emergencies involving flammable liquids, and speak with UK travel technology firm SilverRail about what needs to be done to build on the commercial potential of the international rail travel market.

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