Connectivity is key to minimising travel disruption

Climate change is driving extreme weather across Scotland, Europe and the rest of the world. Over the summer the UK recorded its hottest ever temperature at over 40C , while just last year temperatures in Sicily reached 48C, the hottest recorded temperature in Europe.  

Millions is already being spent on climate change mitigation and ensuring track geometry remains on course as summers get hotter and winters get wetter is a challenge. 

Why is extreme hot weather a problem for transport infrastructure? 

Steel rails in the UK are ‘pre-stressed’ to summer temperatures of 27C, and when air temperature reaches 30C, the rails can actually be 20C higher and expand and buckle – causing delays, cancellations and slowing of services. Deformation of tracks costs time and money and can pose a danger to passenger safety. The costs of increasing temperatures are being felt worldwide – researchers from Beijing estimate that just half a degree Celsius less warming would save economic losses of approximately $630m (£452bn) per year on the Chinese rail system. 

Other transport infrastructure is also affected: Luton Airport recently had to stop flights after the heat melted the runway and the RAF was forced to divert some aircrafts. Even roads can begin to soften at high enough temperatures.  

Krucial CONNECT enables continuous remote monitoring of infrastructure

How can the transport industry avoid further disruption as our climate changes?  

Remote monitoring is key. Embedding the correct equipment and processes within rail and road networks can enable predictive maintenance, ensure proper track alignment and allow for appropriate safety measures to be put in place.  

While rail and transit operations are already embracing smart devices, often getting the full benefit of this technology isn’t possible due to poor connectivity. For example, monitoring track temperature is already known to be important as it informs whether a service has to slow down for passenger safety; monitoring remotely requires reliable connectivity to ensure the appropriate speed and accuracy of that information.  

Connectivity is often the missing piece in the puzzle. Roads, railways and other assets in remote locations with no communications infrastructure cannot be properly monitored or understood – data is not quickly available to those tasked with maintenance.  This makes monitoring a consuming and costly process, often requiring physical trips to areas with no connectivity. Operators need to know quickly if a track has buckled or a road is softening, whether it’s in an urban centre or a remote line with no cellular connectivity. 

Krucial’s connectivity solution gives rail operators access to information and data from all their IoT devices – regardless of location, existing communications infrastructure or weather conditions. Automatic switching between cellular and satellite and built-in resilience means no downtime. Consistent, reliable access to data allows for maintenance issues to be dealt with before they can develop, even in blackspot areas including bridges and tunnels, saving significant time and resource. 

Keeping IoT devices connected at all times also allows for the accurate monitoring, measurement and analysis of environmental and weather conditions to gain a deeper understand of trends and impacts on assets, both during extreme weather events and in remote locations.  

The platform uses an open API to easily integrate with existing business systems and can be deployed quickly and easily, so data about infrastructure conditions and maintenance can start flowing almost instantly.  

As the climate changes, our response must be innovative and ambitious, with digitisation and industrial level IoT at its core – connectivity makes that possible. 

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