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The whole industry is talking about digitalization, but what does it really mean?  

We have a unique opportunity with our North American railroads to leverage technologies that will upgrade the infrastructure while future-proofing operational performance.  

At Siemens Mobility, we have been delivering technology with purpose for decades. First and foremost, to move passenger and freight safely to their destinations and second to help our customers achieve their important productivity targets.

 

From central smart interlockings and maintenance-free level crossing to Meet-Pass Planning solutions we offer a comprehensive portfolio to bring our freight rail industry onto the next level.

 

We know that rail operators are at different stages of understanding and adopting these technologies. Does it need to be something that starts all at once?  Or can it be done one step at a time?

 

Our team knows it’s a journey that starts at different places for different customers and continues indefinitely. When we approach this journey jointly, we can co-create solutions based on proven technology adapted to the specific needs to maximize operational efficiency, greater availability and enhanced safety.

 

Siemens Mobility has the experience of working on some of the most advanced, innovative digital rail projects around the world. Importantly, we’ve learned a lot from these projects, and we now know that some paths work better than others.

 

For example, in Norway, together with our customer, we are converting the entire country’s railroad signaling infrastructure towards a centralized, digital solution. Siemens Mobility is providing 4,200 point machines, more than 7,000 axel counters and upgrading more than 400 railroad crossings across the 2,600 miles of track. That has an immediate and sustainable impact in the rail service and lifetime cost of the system.

 

The key is to develop a long-term vision and to start the technological transformation now. We have a unique opportunity with our North American railroads to leverage technologies that will upgrade the infrastructure while future-proofing operational performance.

 

At this year’s RSSI show, we are excited to work with our partners and customers on their journey to the Digital Railroad.  We are showing how owners and operators can immediately start reaping the benefits of improved safety, decreased lifestyle costs, improved assets availability, and increased operational efficiency.  

We are exhibiting the specific technology and its purpose behind it all. For example, our Airlink radios are frequency-agnostic (software-defined) wireless radio systems that allow railroads to transition from multiple, single-purposes networks to a common, managed, multi-purpose network – realizing significant reduction of infrastructure and operating costs. With these radios, rail operators no longer rely on others for connectivity and can realize a fully digital railroad.

 

Also making its debut with a fully programmable design, our S80 Smart Gate Mechanism works wirelessly to communicate messages via its maintenance-free brushless DC motor. With no mechanical cams or contacts to maintain, the advanced digital control technology of the S80’s robust drive train is designed to last for more than 1 million cycles with minimal maintenance. The S80 supports the ambitious digitalization goals of our customers.

 

While our Back Office Server (BOS) gathers and stores Positive Train Control messages sent to a train’s onboard computer, it then transmits the information to the locomotive for a more flexible and efficient Moving Block system. Together, these two fully digital products optimize network operations and reduce capital and operation costs for our customers, setting railroads on the track towards automatic train control.

 

Together, we have the concrete opportunity to revitalize the American rail industry and bring new digital infrastructure technologies into the market, driving automation. The result will be that our customers achieve their ambitious productivity targets while continuously improving reliability and safety.

 

Digitalization and technological advancement must have a clear purpose. We are ready to work together with our customers on a unique transformation for each railroad. Our team is looking forward to beginning these discussion at this year’s RSSI in Indianapolis and discussing how we shape this future together.

 

 

 

Written By:

Tobias Bauer, Head of Rail Infrastructure

Siemens Mobility Inc.