The Making of Smart(er) Trains For The Smart(er) Community

While Trump-Train gets trumpeted by Americans all over – IoT is making ‘smart trains’ a possibility.

In transporting goods, in providing comfort for passengers. In increasing operators’ return on investment.

IIoT or the Industrial internet of Things is enabling an integration of intricate physical equipment with networked sensors and software to power the transportation system that gets ‘smarter’ by collection and analysis of data, often in real-time, and responding on the fly.

The fact that trains need to operate at sonic speeds, through extreme weather conditions, through tunnels and bridges, all pose significant challenges when it comes to deploying IoT systems. But this disruptive technology is changing existing business models and creating sustainable and competitive value.

A Journey to Creating a Connected Rail Management System

Rail Management System

Source: U.S. Dept of Transportation

The Federal Railroad administration is working towards gradually replacing its legacy infrastructure by making investments of more that $10 billion in key corridors to replace or improve and develop high-speed and intercity passenger rail systems among its 32 state partners and the District of Columbia.

Such high speed corridors has great potential to be supported by emerging IoT services in which trains act as unified communication hubs, transmitting data among themselves and to other network control centers, and vice versa.

Benefits? This Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology is poised to reshape how operators utilize equipment, help achieve a wide range of safety, mobility, and efficiency, with some help from the cloud.

Connected Devices And The Journey That Starts From Home

What if you can enjoy this smart connectivity right from the starting point of the journey, viz. your home? IoT has actually made it possible with the advanced journey planner application. This is a unique feature allowing a better synchronization with technology at every step.  It will lead your way and provide recommendations vis-à-vis the details like road conditions of the route to be taken, available car parking slots, loading facilities, live train running status, and lots more.

The passengers can make informed decisions depending on their personal preferences and situations. This isn’t restricted to a current situation but is also adaptable for predictive analysis with integration of historic data. Hence, planning the journeys and taking them up is going to be a lot easier than ever before.

Smart In-Train Experiences

The big data analytics can bridge the gaps in communication to streamline passenger loading and egress options. It combines the passenger information from train database with social networking apps to adjust the spikes in demand. Moreover, this information can help the passengers to select the destination justly and the rail authorities can adjust the passenger outlet depending on the load of other inbound trains on the same platform.

It will become easier to plan an even distribution of passengers within the train thus helping every passenger in finding a seat. IoT can also enhance in-train experiences by combining the data of onboard assets in the public domain, viz. toilets, ovens, chillers, etc. The operators will be aware of onboard status of these public utilities to rectify any malfunctioning. The real-time availability of data simplifies many manual tasks.

Connectivity for Operational Efficiency

The autonomous technology enabled by Industrial Internet of Things will enhance the connectivity of trains on a real-time basis for multiple efficiencies. In the case of an incident, smart CCTV cameras can offer the inside reports and help to avert potential problems by providing alarms of their occurrence. It can minimize service outages and assist in preventative maintenance of these assets.

Another distinguishing feature of smart trains will be the safety compliances facilitated by IoT. Onboard train location systems, speed monitoring, interlocking, signaling, and level crossing controls will be the major beneficiaries of this technological upgrade.

While rail operators can provide value-added services to the passengers, the latter can enjoy hassle-free traveling experiences made possible by the IoT.

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