The rail industry faces a host of safety challenges. Accidents, injuries, and fatalities are still common. In 2014, for instance, there were 2286 train and vehicle collisions, 12,257 accidents and incidents, 8,800 injuries, and 768 fatalities.¹
But it’s not just hazards that railroads need to navigate. They also need to meet technical innovation, legal, and regulatory challenges too. Fortunately, there is a wide array of safety tools that railroads can use. Here are three of the most important that are easy to incorporate into rail management systems.
Condition and Monitoring Tools
Condition monitoring tools gather machine data to determine the state of equipment. Outcomes include how functional or at-risk assets are, as well as potential recommendations for actions. The most complete condition and monitoring procedures also include a professional assessment done by in-house staff or third-party partners to determine the ultimate state of railroad equipment and prioritize maintenance.
With regular monitoring, railroad staff can improve their maintenance and asset replacement schedules to improve performance and safety, drastically cutting down on the number of incidents caused by equipment problems.
Not only that, but condition monitoring can also lead to cost savings for both maintenance and new equipment. IoT and machine learning are two new pieces of technology that can help with this, although they’re not yet widely implemented in the industry yet.
Water Event Prediction Tools
Water events are one of the top environmental hazards that railroads have to deal with. Between 1995 and 2005, there were a total of 861 water-related incidents costing railroads a combined $182,849,035.²
This is another area where IoT and machine learning are able to dramatically improve the performance of current tools. By combining machine learning with real-time monitoring and historical data, IoT analytics platforms can predict when weather events will impact railroads and in what way. This provides advanced warning for railroad companies that allows them to carry out predictive maintenance and avoid sending trains into dangerous situations.
Safety Management Systems
A safety management system is a set of practices and procedures that railroads employ to ensure safety. They can include stress testing, risk management, and a dedicated safety management software system.
Part of these systems should cover IT security. The rail industry is becoming increasingly digitized and while that brings many benefits, it also brings an increased risk of cyber attacks. Rail management systems need to account for this and take significant steps to protect themselves.
A safety management system also allows you to demonstrate to regulators that you have the right measures and policies for managing the full range of risks that you could face. While these are optional in the U.S., they are strongly recommended. In Europe, for instance, a safety management system is a requirement if you want to participate in heavy rail operations.³
Keep Up with New Safety Tool Technology
The rail industry will always face safety challenges, but effective rail management systems incorporate safety tools and regularly assess new technology and methods, like water event prediction, to ensure they have access to the most advanced tools.
We’ll likely see safety tools for railroads increase in the near future, with AI and IoT technology making inroads into more than just water event prediction software. To see where advancements could benefit your organization most, keep up with news and new releases in the industry.