Innovation in railway product development for signalling

Accidents have been the main driver of innovation in the historical development of signalling products. Major milestone advances in technology have also had an effect. Although accidents are still a driver, there are other drivers too: Improving operational efficiency and flexibility; Improving maintenance operations and reducing costs; Improving reliability and availability of operation; Overcoming latent safety issues; Improving project delivery times and reducing costs. Traditionally, most signalling engineers are very cautious and are not known for accepting new and updated products. Rail Authorities do not like to be the first to put a new signalling product into operation. They much prefer to let it be tried and tested by other similar Rail Authorities so that any bugs can be ironed out well before they consider using it. Rail Authorities usually specify that signalling products are required to operate safely and reliably for very long periods of service (eg > 25 years). In fact, some products have continued to operate in service for even longer periods (eg > 40 years) and there seems to be little advantage to change what has already been accepted and is working perfectly adequately. To introduce innovative signalling products into operation requires the product to be type approved, which involves considerable time, effort and cost. The more the product has safety implications, the more time, effort and cost can become excessive. Suppliers usually need to build a significant business case to pursue a particular innovative development. Innovation has tended to advance more in non-vital products (eg control systems), where the type approval process is less demanding and has allowed these products to keep abreast with the faster new technology advances. Whereas innovation in safety products, such as interlockings, trackside equipment and trainborne equipment, has been slow to change with technology advances, compared with other safety industries. When a new product is brought into operation, there can be unforeseen operational problems which occur and further development is required to rectify these problems. These problems can be reduced by applying more formalized and stricter approaches to type approval.

Media Info

  • Pagination: 8p.
  • Monograph Title: AusRAIL PLUS 2007, celebrating the past, creating the future, 4-6 December 2007, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01516853
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • Files: ATRI
  • Created Date: Mar 4 2014 7:55PM