From Thales, Three New Technologies

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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Thales has launched new CBTC (communications-based train control) and real-time passenger density systems, and partnered with Invision AI and Metrolinx to develop technology that allows trains to track potential obstacles.

Thales will showcase SelTrac™ G8, its eighth-generation CBTC system, and Distributed Intelligent Video Analytics (DIVA), which monitors passenger density in trains and on platforms, among other technologies, at its “first-ever digital event dedicated to rail transport, the Smart Mobility Experience,” to be held March 24.

Communications-Based Train Control

The SelTrac™ G8 from Thales helps rail operators “manage network growth, extensions, and fleet expansions as well as prepare for the future and control operations,” according to Thales. Its new digital architecture “is based on common hardware platforms and is designed to be upgraded easily,” allowing operators to “keep pace with rapidly evolving technology.” Additionally, SelTrac™ G8 offers health-monitoring “to extend the system life with no interruption to operations.”

“Since its introduction on the urban rail market, SelTrac™ has become a global benchmark,” said Alcino de Sousa, VP, Managing Director of Thales’ Urban Rail Signaling. “With this new generation of the SelTrac™ system, Thales is supporting the digital transformation of urban rail operators by delivering an innovative solution that includes the latest technologies and paves the way for the autonomous train operations of the next 30 years and beyond.”

Real-Time Passenger Density

The new DIVA system helps rail operators alleviate crowding by reducing dwell times. Based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) video analytics, DIVA leverages the existing CCTV network at stations and on-board trains to provide real-time information on passenger density, according to Thales, which tested DIVA last year in Singapore with SBS Transit. In addition, platform video displays can show riders which cars of an approaching train are full or not through red, yellow and green color-coding (pictured above). The video analytics can also be used to detect unattended luggage and trespassing, according to the manufacturer.

“This solution provides operators with tools to manage crowding on stations and trains and allows them to tackle the root causes of congestion,” said Benoît Couture, VP, Managing Director of Thales’ Integrated Communication and Supervision Systems.

Autonomous Rail Pilot

Thales, Invision AI and Metrolinx have teamed to develop “advanced autonomous technology” for rail through the WinterTech Development program, which is run by the Ontario government’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN). On the front of a GO Transit train, they have added multi-spectral sensing technology, including radar, cameras and lidar, along with a cyber-secured 4G/LTE-connected data collection and processing system. The aim: to use the collected data to “train the system to recognize obstacles and other dangers.” The system also provides real-time information, such as positioning, train telemetry and diagnostics, according to the partners. It has been tested for six months across multiple GO Transit lines in Toronto, and will continue for another six months in different weather and environmental conditions. The C$1.47 million project is supported by the partners, which have contributed a total of C$992,760, and AVIN, which provided C$483,600.

The partners explain that the benefits for rail operators are “enhanced safety, rapid installation time due to the minimal equipment footprint, enhanced ‘look ahead’ sensing to detect and track potential obstacles, and accurate real-time data collection crucial for maintenance and operations teams. For passengers, this will contribute to fewer delays, improved safety and enhanced reliability of the network.”

“Metrolinx is proud to support this initiative with Invision and Thales,” Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said. “A focus on safety is central to delivering a world-class transit system, and innovative solutions like this one are an important part of this work.”

“In a competitive market, it is absolutely vital that industrials find ways to make [the] railway more attractive,” said Millar Crawford, Executive Vice President of Thales’ Ground Transportation Systems. “And this is where innovation helps. One of the biggest challenges today is that you can’t just close down a railway network while you upgrade [it]. People still need to go to work and to travel. That’s why we’re putting so much effort into the solutions that can be deployed whilst having minimal disruption.”

Categories: C&S, Commuter/Regional, Intercity, Light Rail, News, Passenger, Rapid Transit, Safety Tags: , ,