Future Rail is back for another issue packed with technology news and industry analysis. In this issue, we find out more about the rail industry’s positive contribution to Covid-19 relief efforts, track the progress of US railroads towards positive train control (PTC) implementation, and investigate how 5G will benefit the industry.

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In this issue

Covid-19: could the pandemic bolster international rail travel?

A recent report from the UBS investment bank has found that the Covid-19 pandemic could accelerate the shift of passengers from air to rail, supercharging growth across the next decade. Could the rail industry be poised to take centre stage in international travel after the coronavirus crisis? Alex Love finds out.

Read the article here.

How the railway industry went the extra mile during Covid-19

The Covid-19 crisis is posing serious challenges to the rail industry, but amongst the bad news are also positive stories where the industry has rallied to help communities in need. Adele Berti takes a closer look at how the sector has helped out during the pandemic.

Read the article here.

East Coast Main Line: inside the UK’s first intercity digital railway

Network Rail’s East Coast Digital Programme will not only provide real-time, in-cab signalling on the line, but it also has the potential to set a new standard for the way rail upgrade projects are planned and delivered in the UK. Julian Turner gets the inside track from programme director Toufic Machnouk.

Read the article here.

Positive train control: US railroads race to the finish line

The final, extended deadline for positive train control implementation across key US rail lines is coming up on 31 December 2020. How much progress has the industry made in this decade-long safety initiative, and does Covid-19 threaten to derail the industry’s last-minute push to complete the upgrade this year? Chris Lo reports.

Read the article here.

The fifth element: how 5G is set to revolutionise the railways

Fifth-generation (5G) wireless communications promise to shape the future of rail transportation by offering ultra-low latency and ultra-high reliability. Julian Turner speaks to Nokia head of global transportation Jochen Apel about the digital revolution, the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) rollout and 5G projects worldwide.

Read the Q&A here.

Q&A: will video on demand services take over trains?

Operators have long been struggling to provide video on demand (VOD) services, as their onboard train Wi-Fi systems currently lack the capacity needed to support content providers like Netflix and Amazon. Software company Netskrt CEO Siegfried Luft tells Adele Berti about a potential solution to this problem.

Read the Q&A here.

Magnetic pull: China and Japan battle it out for maglev train supremacy

Notwithstanding the coronavirus crisis, Japan has revealed it will conduct tests of a new prototype train as part of its ambitious maglev line, while China looks set to double down on further floating projects. Elsewhere though, the maglev concept shows little sign of ever taking off, as Ross Davies reports.

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Canfranc: bringing an abandoned railway station back to life

First opened in 1928, Spain’s Canfranc International Railway Station used to be one of Europe’s largest rail hubs and played a key role during the Second World War. It has been closed since 1970, but recent plans to revive a rail line through the region could soon bring Canfranc back to life. Adele Berti takes a closer look.

Read the article here.

Next issue preview

‘Good things come in twos’ is the mantra for Future Rail September. Next time, we cast our eyes upon rail’s contribution to two major world projects: the China-Europe Silk Road freight service, which saw a record number of movements during the Covid-19 pandemic; and the Trans-European Transport Network, which includes the development of a series railway lines, airports and shipping routes to fill in missing trade gaps across the continent.

We’ll also take an in-depth look at Switzerland’s New Rail Link – a high-speed rail network 30 years in the making – and see whether expanding the UK’s high-speed route (HS2) to Scotland would help reduce emissions in line with the Scottish Government’s 2045 net-zero target.

Also in September, we investigate two locomotive-focused projects that recently received funding from InnovateUK’s First of a Kind programme: a trial of selective catalytic reduction technology from rolling stock leasing company Porterbook, which could lead to drastic NOx reductions in train engines; and the HydroFLEX project, which aims to bring hydrogen-powered vehicles to the UK’s rail fleet.

Finally, in a special photo feature we get the lowdown on the new Saint-Denis Pleyel station being built in Paris, France, which will be able to accommodate 250,000 passengers a day – but will it open in time for the 2024 Olympics?