Compared to other types of transport, the rail industry’s technology may seem to be progressing much more slowly. Consider automotive technology, which is constantly changing. In the past ten years, we’ve seen proximity sensors, satellite navigation systems, and reversing cameras, and plenty of other innovations have proliferated. Every time consumers buy a new car, they notice many new features.
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The rising cost of diesel is prompting rail companies to explore alternative fuels, many of which (along with being a more cost-efficient option), are much kinder to the environment.
To meet the ever increasing needs for reductions in energy waste, Powerbox was approached by an Australian fleet operator to design a high efficiency DC/DC converter to supply locomotive headlights. The brief was to remove the need for dropping resistors used to dim incandescent headlights used on locomotives. These dropping resistors waste large amounts of battery energy as heat, which in turn adds to the cabins air-conditioning load, meaning more energy is required for cooling purposes.
Powerbox was approached by an Australian railway operator to design and manufacture a DC/AC inverter. This was needed for on-board AC power requirements in their fleet of diesel powered locomotives.
By 2050, the world’s population will hit 9.5 billion, before the rate of growth will finally begin slowing down. While some parts of the world like Japan and Europe will see populations decline, the developing world will see approximately 90% of the expected population growth. And by 2050, 70% of people will live in an urban area.
As the rail industry prepares to enter a period of transformation with larger populations, technological disruption and a commitment to fighting climate change, rail companies will be fighting for market share.
Today, more than ever, rail companies are expected to maintain safety and service quality, operate even more efficiently, achieve more with lower budgets, and meet ever-increasing passenger needs. While most of these challenges aren’t new, the rail industry is changing rapidly, with increasing environmental, competitive, regulatory, and economic pressures, creating new challenges and opportunities.
Global investment continues to grow in rail infrastructure. In Australia, the government has committed $20 billion for investment in freight and passenger networks from the 2017/18 federal budget. The aim is to boost productivity and ease congestion.
Commuting to and from work is a stressful experience in most countries. But as the industry faces increased competition, attracting more passengers is crucial for many rail companies.
While rail remains the most environmentally-friendly mode of transportation, there’s little doubt that the industry still has work to do to increase sustainability.