A new technology known as Rail Technical Strategy (RTS) has been unveiled in the UK to increase the capacity of the rail network and enable operators to efficiently run more trains over the next 30 years.
Network Rail and the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) have collaborated with the RSSB and the rest of the industry in the Technical Strategy Leadership Group (TSLG) to set up a strategy to make the most of existing technologies.
They also aim to promote new ideas in areas that have the potential to transfer technology from other sectors to railway applications such as nanotechnology.
Network Rail technical director and chair of TSLG Steve Yianni said that the company knows that the approach has to be complete, from the way the track relates to the trains and the trains to the signalling and hence it cannot work on one part of the system without affecting another.
"By working together as an industry we have already unlocked opportunities for innovation and new funding, and the potential to develop more innovative approaches to running the railway has been recognised," Yianni said.
ATOC chief executive Michael Roberts said: "The refreshed Rail Technical Strategy helps us do that by setting out a whole-industry view on the key technical opportunities and on the vital need to stimulate innovation in the railways."
The new RTS technology is likely to have an impact on the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), which is being jointly developed by Network Rail and ATOC in association with RSSB and the rest of the industry.
By allowing traffic management to move inside the trains and reduce the number of control centres, a large amount of cost can be saved as the lineside signalling maintenance has an expenditure of around £100m per annum.
Network Rail has been developing automated methods of lineside inspection, including plain line pattern recognition and remote asset monitoring.
About 40% of trains run by operators in the UK are already fitted with diagnostic technology that enables the vehicles to detect potential faults as they develop.
Over the next ten years, the RTS will help to provide a greater spread of 25kv electrification on the Midland main line and the Great Western main line.
The electrification will also be brought to areas currently equipped with third rail electrification, to take advantage of greater transmission efficiency and offer improved capacity.
Image: The RTS technology will have an impact on ERTMS that is being jointly developed by Network Rail and ATOC. Photo: courtesy of Network Rail.