“They go into rural areas where telcos don’t, so there is scope to use the fibre-optic network to supply broadband providers,” he adds.
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Network Rail Telecom (NRT) is embarking on an ambitious plan to lever the growth of the internet of things (Io T) to enhance its own internal services' capabilities, in conjunction with supplier partner Cisco.
It is now responsible for Network Rail’s national telecoms asset management and service provision, and owns all the organisation's telecoms assets, including an 18,500km fibre-optic network.
NRT estimates in-cab signalling could be up to 40% cheaper than traditional lineside signals, because running trains at their optimum speed will allow more units onto the track, boosting passenger capacity and reducing delays, and helping to avoid a repeat of incidents such as the 1999 Ladbroke Grove crash, caused when a train driver jumped a red trackside signal that he apparently failed to spot.
Beyond reducing the likelihood of major incidents on the railways, the Io T will also improve the passenger experience in more mundane ways, says Nash.
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Other connected devices will interact independently with sensors on the network to measure things such as water table levels, which can affect railway embankments should the ground become waterlogged.NRT hopes to be able to loop real-time information back to passengers through a smartphone journey-planning app.There are other potential uses as well, such as advice on what carriage to join and where to stand on the platform to position yourself for a swift exit at your destination.For Clayton Nash, NRT's head of telecom product, the programme is all about looking at the national railway infrastructure in a more fragmented fashion.There are already tens of thousands of sensors deployed up and down the nation’s railway tracks to monitor things such as air and track temperatures and stress gauges.However, says Nash: “Having individuals close to bits of track is no longer economically viable.We need to move into centralised facilities, which means we need to be able to remotely view how the railway operates.” A sensor that can alert a centralised control desk to a problem, or a potential problem, will make this ambition much more achievable. “We have a huge number of things we need to watch and if we can run the railway as a fully digital service, and not have to have people walking the tracks, it brings cost savings for us and increased safety for our workforce,” he says.Hopefully you will all have fun meeting singles and try out this online dating thing...Remember that we are the largest free online dating service, so you will never have to pay a dime to meet your soulmate.Take the maintenance of overhead power lines on parts of the network that draw power from such a supply.Up to now, Network Rail’s technicians have had to spend large amounts of time at the trackside conducting routine maintenance checks.