Undoubtedly the last 12 months have altered the way we live and work, but the pandemic has also shifted the way we travel. And one of the major shifts we could see, is in one of the oldest methods of public transport. So, whether you regularly catch trains to York, or you travel across Europe by rail, there could be some exciting changes in the near future.
Train delays not only significantly impact the passengers and their journey, but the knock-on repercussions of these delays cost millions. It’s estimated that these delays equate to nearly 4 million hours a year and affect 8.1 million passenger journeys in total. But with new mechatronic switches, these delays could be dramatically reduced.
Switch or points failure is responsible for nearly 20% of total passenger rail delays and this occurs when there’s a problem with the mechanism that enables trains to move from one track to another at a junction. These innovative switches have three independent motors that lift and shift the rails, relying on gravity to lock them back into place, and still work if one or two of the motors fail.
These switches aim to work faster, improve ease of maintenance – which also contribute to delays – and reduce the risk of failure thanks to their back up motors.
The majority of trains are renowned for their smooth rides. Because conventional suspension systems restrict a train’s speed as it travels on curved tracks, and work effectively like large springs, it can cause a bumpy motion when travelling on uneven ground. However, active suspension systems are now being developed which introduce new sensors, actuators and controllers to more precisely alter the distance between wheels and the carriage. This will improve ride comfort and enables the train to travel round curves with greater speed and stability.
While the true impact of the pandemic won’t be felt for many years, it’s predicted that domestic and short-haul travel will increase. With more people staying in their own country, we could see the uptick in rail travel which will lead to an increase in more trains.
Not only will domestic travel increase the need for more trains, but as countries look for greener ways to travel, electric powered trains will become more common and could reduce car commuter numbers in the long-term.
In addition, because of social distancing measures in place both now, and the for the foreseeable railway companies will need to adapt their trains to accommodate for the same numbers of people, but in a larger space – which will result in more trains and more services.