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August 1, 2013

Shortlist announced for Future Rail Innovation in Safety Awards 2013

While rail may be one of the safest forms of transport, recent tragedies in Spain, France and Canada prove that when accidents happen they can be disastrous. While much of the work done to improve safety relies on perfecting the design and management of successful networks, innovation in new technologies remains crucial. To celebrate innovation in this field Future Rail has shortlisted a selection of new technological endeavours, tasked with the important role of saving lives.

By Daniel Garrun

Rail award

While rail may be one of the safest forms of transport, recent tragedies in Spain, France and Canada prove that when accidents happen they can be disastrous. While much of the work done to improve safety relies on perfecting the design and management of successful networks, innovation in new technologies remains crucial. To celebrate innovation in this field, Future Rail has shortlisted a selection of new technological endeavours, tasked with the important role of saving lives.

To see the shortlist in full please read the latest edition of Future Rail. The winner will be announced in the next issue, published in October.

Nominees:

Berner & Mattner and the European Space Agency – SafeRail

As part of the ESA’s integrated applications promotion (IAP) programme to improve level crossing safety, SafeRail combines terrestrial technologies with space assets, such as telecommunications, observation and navigation, to determine vehicle positions and ultimately reduce the danger of accidents at level crossings. With around 25% of all railroad fatalities caused by accidents at crossings, there are few areas of safety research commanding more attention at present.

Nice Systems – NICE Situator

In May this year NICE Systems announced that ProRail, the government agency responsible for rail infrastructure in the Netherlands, would be deploying their NICE Situator technology to help identify, verify and manage security, safety, and operations in real time across their network. From a single, centralised control room, the NICE situator allows operators to manage tens of thousands of incidents a year across the Netherland’s rail systems, including on-track malfunctions, fire incidents and other crisis situations. Importantly the system will also allow for better accountability through improved post-accident analysis and investigation.

MTR – Rail Detective

Hong Kong’s MTR has introduced a new ultrasonic testing vehicle (UTV), called the Rail Detective, designed to reduce track inspection time by half through the identification of small changes to rail tracks. The new UTV is designed to run at a top speed of 35km/h and will be able to check the complete Kwun Tong Line in three hours, compared to older UTVs that take two days.

Sierra Wireless – suite of GSM and GSM-R solutions

One of the major criticisms of any positive train controls system is that if you lose communications then you lose control. Enter wireless communications, a field which is certain to revolutionise railway safety through enhanced reliability and real-time communications. Sierra Wireless has been nominated for its work as a constant innovator in this field, providing the broadest range of railway-specific GSM and GSM-R solutions currently available.

SECUREMETRO project – safe metro vehicles

Funded by the European Commission under the auspices of its €8bn Seventh Framework Programme, SECUREMETRO it united a consortium of 11 stakeholders from France, Italy, Spain and the UK in a common cause: to design inherently secure, blast-resistant and fire-safe metro vehicles. The project aims to release a new set of guidelines this year, designed to allow manufacturers to take blast resistance into account when they design their vehicles, ultimately making rail carriages less of an easy target for terrorists.

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