Rail

Determining Value of Tech for Rail Projects Key

Posted on June 12, 2019 by James Blue, Publisher

For long-term planning, each of us needs to engage in a bit of “SWOT” analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) when it comes to technological trends.
CATS
For long-term planning, each of us needs to engage in a bit of “SWOT” analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) when it comes to technological trends.CATS

A raft of new technologies has been introduced in the past decade in rail transit, ranging from automation in operations to communications-based train control (CBTC) to intelligent energy management. Meanwhile, technological forces outside rail transit, such as ride-hailing services, undermine some traditional arguments for new rapid transit services, and thus, could threaten any new bipartisan efforts for new spending on infrastructure programs. Agencies need not only understand how each of these trends plays out in their own communities as they plan future programs, but also how they are perceived in state and federal capitals, for these perceptions will likely determine the shape of our industry’s next reauthorization bill and beyond.

How new tech is used is key
Some of these, of course, have been incrementally deployed for decades. How they might be deployed may not be revolutionary to the industry as a whole, but are cutting edge in a given city. For example, CBTC has been developed and deployed for more than 40 years, maybe longer depending on the elements of these systems, but driverless operation might be completely new to your agency’s rail system, which is enabled by CBTC. Intelligent energy management is similarly not new, but these systems being deployed at your utilities, or in your rail operation, might be.

What is truly new is how local commute patterns are affected by new technologies and services behind the ride-hailing companies, and as mentioned in our last edition, they affect bus and rail operations alike. However, because of rail’s typically longer lead times and inability to change routes, they have a particularly negative effect on rail planning.

Do a tech SWOT analysis
For long-term planning, each of us needs to engage in a bit of “SWOT” analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) when it comes to technological trends. How new technology is applied is often even more important than the promise of the technology itself. A lot of money can be wasted if there are unclear goals or if the technology is incompatible with existing systems and operations. Even worse, new technology can be undermined if it’s not supported by everyone who needs to.

This is the stuff of the system's engineering disciplines. Fortunately, there are a lot of experts for hire and conferences with these topics on the agenda to draw from. Take full advantage.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Sound Transit lands FTA Full Funding Agreement for light rail extension

The project will serve a dense suburban corridor where the existing roadway network is constrained and travel options are limited to two congested roadways.

Metrolink completes $32M train station modernization project

The theme of the Van Nuys Station honors the long-closed General Motors assembly plant, which from 1947 to 1992 produced cars.

NY MTA unveils first look of next-gen subway cars

Board approved the $1.4 billion contract award of 535 R211 cars to Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. in 2018.

BART to launch ambassador program on trains for safety, security

Uniformed personnel will be equipped with radios to report safety and security concerns or biohazards.

WMATA's rail ridership up 20K trips on weekdays in 2019

The agency reports that customer-focused improvements implemented last year contributed to the increase in rail ridership.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation