M2M in trains, connectivity on rails
Tuesday, 09 July 2013
One of M2M’s main revolutions is referred to moving things. Vehicles like cars are now taking a new route that will change the way in which we interact with them. However, trains have already gone down this road and they offer a vast amount of services which are made possible thanks to machine-to-machine technology.
Wagon monitorization, control of air conditioning, engine maintenance or provision of information about the trip to travelers are some of the connected features that many railway companies already include.
Switzerland, one of the countries where the train is implanted most, is one of the leaders in M2M deployment in this field. Jan Richard, Technology Manager at Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), explains that the operator is using M2M innovations on 3,039 km of lines across its network. “And with the railway aiming to make cost savings of up to 15% from more efficient technologies by 2017-2018, there are significant plans in place to introduce further M2M solutions that will improve performance and efficiency over the next few years”, he assures.
Richard highlights a more efficient maintenance system as the main advancement that M2M brings to this field: “One example of where M2M is helping to improve operations is in point maintenance. If a point starts to become worn or faulty we can see that happening and can schedule maintenance to address the fault before it becomes a problem.”
However, customer service is also an interesting issue to develop. Deutsche Bahn launched a new passenger information system last year, which gives connectivity to distribute real-time train travel updates on the train platforms. This solution is being deployed in more than 4,000 railway stations with 3,000 display units and another 3,500 expected by 2015.
Furthermore, there is another very obvious M2M use in trains, which is the possibility to connect to Wi-Fi on the train. A machine-to-machine network is the one that delivers connection to the train, where passengers can connect their devices. It is the same system which is used to provide information about the route on the screens in wagons.
Image: Bert Kaufmann