Railroads spend billions annually on modern technologies like drones, ground penetrating radars, and smart sensors along rail tracks. In fact, railroads privately spend $25 billion each year, on infrastructure and equipment to improve and maintain the network.Since the early 2000s, train accident and hazardous accident rates are down 30%, while rail employee fatalities in 2010 were at an all-time low. Here are some ways modern technology is changing the railroad system.
The Right Track
For trains to run safely and properly, tracks and the infrastructure they use must be in excellent shape.
Railroads use ultrasound, just as doctors do, to peer inside tracks and determine potential flaws. Going further down, ground-penetrating radar looks inside the track foundation — known as ballast — to see water damage or deterioration. And, for hard to reach infrastructure such as rail bridges, engineers use drones to secure structural integrity while protecting their employees safely on the ground. These technologies serve as early warning systems, allowing railroads to strategically schedule and implement preventative maintenance.
Keep Us Moving
Train wheels don’t just keep our economy moving, they are still an essential part of rail safety. Investments in an array of smart sensors, including infrared, acoustic monitoring and laser technology, take notice of the strength of railcar wheels. They alert railroads to wheel anomalies, which can alter their performance, damage track or indicate brake problems. Similar to preventative track maintenance, this allows railroads to fix small issues before they turn into serious issues.
Preventing Human-Caused Accidents
Positive Train Control is a lot of highly advanced technologies designed to make freight rail transportation. Already one of the safest U.S. industries, even safer by automatically stopping a train to prevent specific types of human-caused accidents. As of August 2020, the nation’s largest freight railroads were operating PTC across 100% of the required route miles nationwide. The system will be fully active and interoperable by the end of 2020.
Keeping Employees Safe
Working on the railroad is safer now than ever before, even than working at your local grocery store. Applying technology to job safety has allowed the industry to establish great strides in recent years. From remote control locomotives needed to reposition locomotives in a rail yard to bridge inspection using drone mounted high-definition cameras, rail technology is allowing employees to accomplish their jobs more productively while protecting them out of harm’s way.
There is a lot that goes into Railroad safety. Contact us today to get the top modern technology and equipment to insure safety for your employees and the millions of that use the railways everyday.