Digitalization and electrification are rapidly redefining mobility. Siemens Mobility’s Head of Electrification explains how greater digital connectivity will improve train availability, and how electrification and innovation can provide operators with entirely new revenue streams.
Availability and reliability are among our clients’ key concerns…
How is digitalization addressing rail operators’ greatest challenges?
Operators have been familiar with the metro networks around them for the past few decades. They knew their operating system, the power demands and their network schemes inside out and could estimate the capacity of the lines. With network growth and the changing configurations of new trains, extended lines, signaling upgrades to enable higher capacity and shorter headways, it is becoming almost impossible for the operator to predict the power-supply performance of his network.
Availability and reliability are among our clients’ key concerns. No operator wants to face an unexpected power-supply outage or a line being down with trains stuck in a tunnel.
Digitalization with connectivity and transparency can support operators on a daily basis. Siemens’ Sidytrac RT offers the operator a real-time simulation tool, which shows the capacity and load of all power-supply components. It can simulate any event, including switching sequences or component outages in order to assess the upcoming operation scenarios.
With such a tool, an operator has a safety belt for emergency situations and a training tool to allow them to learn much faster than the previous generation of operators, who gained their knowledge through decades of daily operation.
Can you give an example of an innovation that has come out of electrification and digitalization?
My favorite example is from our client, Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen (SSB) in Germany. SSB purchased for its tram system a self-commutated inverter for DC traction power supply, Sitras PCI. When a train brakes, that energy is often wasted to a large extent. The Sitras PCI inverter allows for that energy to be made available not only to the tram system – but also enables it to be fed back to the grid if the railway network doesn’t require it.
We also developed a smartphone app for our client so he can track and monitor how much money he saved with the inverter and how much CO2 emissions he avoided. This online information and transparency had saved our client €150,000 after less than 24 months of operation, so our client was easily convinced to order two more inverters.
The views expressed herein are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect the views of Siemens Mobility.