The electrification of everything is driving modernization and digitization of railway systems around the world—from inter-city railways to city metro systems. Millions of people rely on trains to ride to work and school, and to maintain active social lives. Functioning rail and metro systems are a critical feature of urban life.
Advancements in rail technology have brought about modernization projects across Europe. While trains are designed to last decades, their onboard and signaling systems need to be kept up to date. Modern railway technology allows for better communication between trains, more advanced signaling to improve train frequency and advanced passenger information systems for people planning their commutes. Most importantly, modern rail technology enhances critical safety features that protect commuters and train operators from harm. nVent solutions are connecting and protecting rail partners across Europe in several important projects.
SNCF, the French railway network, has launched a 1B euro partnership called ARGOS to develop the next generation of computer-based interlockings. Computer controlled interlockings use digital technology to monitor and control train positions throughout the rail system. Several different rail and signaling companies are part of the partnership.
Computer Based Interlocking has both onboard and trackside requirements. Trackside infrastructure presents a challenge for rail managers because vandals often target it. Because modern electronic signaling systems are so important for safe railway operation , improved physical and cybersecurity is essential. nVent provided nVent SCHROFF Varistar Indoor Cabinets, as well as Outdoor Modular Enclosures to protect trackside electronics. These cabinets have a very high level of vandal resistance and access control, which prevent people from tampering with electronics or using physical server connections to access the signaling system.
In Germany, Stuttgart 21, or Stuttgart digital node, will be one of the first fully integrated digital rail systems implemented in the European Railway Traffic Management System—the common signaling system used across the European Union. This multi-billion euro project will eventually upgrade most of Germany’s rail to digital operations.
Stuttgart digital node is the first signal modernizing program to use decentralized architecture. This means increased reliance on trackside and onboard electronics, as well as local server rooms. The Stuttgart 21 project requires an extensive range of different enclosures solutions—from indoor technical rooms to outdoor pole mounts and trackside cabinets. All these electronics need to be protected from both environmental conditions and manmade threats. nVent provided onboard Varistar cabinets, pole mounts and outdoor modular cabinets to protect sensitive electronics. nVent's wide portfolio of solutions helps engineers solve many of their enclosures needs while working with a single company.
The SNFC ARGOS and Stuttgart 21 projects are large network railway projects, but metro systems need also modernization and increased protection. The London Underground Four Lines Modernization project (4LM) seeks to transform four important metro lines, allowing the system to run more trains per hour and decrease transit time. When work is completed, the London Underground will be able to run trains more reliably, more frequently and more comfortably for passengers. The project involves three major components: new modern trains, new track and new signaling systems. Eventually, the metro's Computer Based Train Control (CBTC) system will allow trains to drive autonomously.
Modern cities contain a high concentration of wireless communication—from Bluetooth to phone signals to 5G infrastructure. These signals create a high level of electromagnetic (EMC) interference for rail signaling systems. Digital rail systems need to protect equipment from interference to ensure that it continues to operate reliably. Varistar Indoor Cabinets provide best in class protection against EMC interference.
As metro systems continue to adopt CBTC based systems, nVent solutions are positioned to support the exponential growth of autonomous operation in metro systems. As engineers turn to these critical systems in applications across the globe, nVent rail solutions connect and protect these systems from environmental and manmade threats.