As new developments occur in the transportation industry, it is important that safety regulations evolve along with the changes. Transportation safety officials take this very seriously and have made sure that every development is tested for safety. Recently, the spotlight has been on aviation safety, after a number of plane crashes. But, there is a lot of changes happening in the rail transportation industry.
The rail transportation industry has seen a bit of struggling as energy costs are on the rise. The industry is also experiencing issues with outdated infrastructure and rising certification costs. It has also faced stiff competition from the air travel industry. Airlines can offer cheaper fares and are considered the primary choice of travelers. To ensure the rail industry stays relevant, experts believe it is critical that they work towards improving speed and capacity, while increasing safety and efficiency. How will the industry answer these questions?
First, they must address the issue of energy consumption. Despite the fact that rail transportation is the most energy efficient industry, the industry must continue to find ways to improve through developing technology. According to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Best Practices and Strategies for Improving Rail Energy Efficiency, the most promising strategies are “modernizing power and propulsion equipment and infrastructure, modernization or fleet replacement for locomotives and railcars, or use of electric multiple units in electrified territory, fleet renewal and equipment upgrades that reduce fuel consumption and adoption of proven operational Best Practices.”
Another important issue to improving the technology that will allow these trains to move faster and quickly is to make there is not a sacrifice of safety. To meet the growing safety concerns, industry professionals have been tweaking SCADE, the programming suite that controls the critical safety applications for aviation, rail, automotive and industrial domains. As for the rail industry, it uses SCADE’s EN 50128, which has undergone a lot of changes. According to experts in the field, it has “placed a strong emphasis on Software-Based Controls, Driver-Machine Interfaces and Power Electronics.” This engineering is changing the way the rail transportation industry is working and helping to keep it from going obsolete. The methods were found through the government’s study on how to make travel more efficient and are being implemented into the industry.
What are the benefits to EN 50128? It improves communication between the software, suppliers and certification authorities. This long-term solution will automatically be able to detect flaws in the transportation system. Maintenance can be performed on the model and on the code easily. In fact, the interface has been designed to increase understanding. This standard is changing the railroad transportation industry and it has been independently tested and certified to meet the highest requirements of safety.
Some might not be able to find a practical example of what exactly this software makes possible, but there are several common safety aspects that would not be possible without these developments. Take for instance, a railway signaling system. The flashing crossing guards you see at railroad crossings are only operable and up to code because of the standards put into place by EN 50128. This seemingly complex technology is making common safety aspects possible.
Critical systems and software are vital in all aspects of transportation. This software is constantly being updated and is regulated by governmental bodies for the specific mode of transportation. For example, aviation is overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency. There is a different system for this industry. DO-178C has been the force behind making sure aircraft is worthy of flying since 1992. Just like EN 50128, this software is constantly monitored and improved as technology evolves. DO-178C is used in the certification process of most civilian aircrafts and involved systems.
An increasing investment in the transportation industry has led to more intense safety regulations. An industry that struggled with backlog and production is finding a surge in demand. This technology is allowing the industry to grow and reach its potential.
This software has been proven to provide critical system and software engineers, not only extremely proficiently.These specific process have also reduced risk and cost. As technology continues to rapidly evolve, the transportation industry must continue to evolve as well. This means that software, such as DO-178C and EN 50128 will continue to play a large role in the safety of travel. Thousands of people trust their lives with these industries and it is up to those industries to protect those lives.