With millions of people traveling on trains every day, the safety of passengers is a primary concern. But in order to consistently achieve and maintain high levels of safety, great emphasis is placed on the reliability of the many thousands of individual components employed in train production, which must uphold the rigorous safety requirements expected.
While fires on board trains are rare, with 38 recorded in the UK in 2015-16, they remain a concern posing a safety risk to rolling stock, cargo and, of course, human life. From mechanical and electrical faults through to arson and smoking, there are several ways in which a train fire could begin, while the environment of train carriages can exacerbate its effects.
With this in mind, it is crucial for manufacturers and operators to understand how they can improve vehicle safety with the use of fire-retardant components.
Containing the risks of flammable components
As a key component in delivering reliability and comfort for passengers, rubber is heavily relied upon, particularly within suspension units which – through reducing vibration – contribute to passenger comfort and protect surrounding components from resulting vibration. As rubber is a highly flammable material, it might be assumed that its application within the rail industry is limited, however, its unique properties make it an irreplaceable component in delivering reliability, comfort and safety to passengers.
While its numerous formulations make rubber difficult to replicate without compromising on quality and performance, it is possible to reduce the risks posed by this highly flammable material in the event of a fire, in turn protecting passengers and aiding manufacturers in meeting regulatory safety requirements including the enhanced EN 45545 legislation. By delaying the onset of flames, and subsequently smoke and toxic emissions, DragonCoat provides a safe and reliable solution to rubber parts acting as fuel for fires on railway vehicles.
Developed by our specialist Antivibration Solutions team – with more than 100 years’ experience in the rail industry – this innovative smoke and fire-retardant coating delays the effects of fire on rubber products, ultimately making trains safer places for rail passengers.
Applied over rubber as a flexible coating, vital train components such as suspension units are able to retain their essential performance characteristics without compromising safety. While the innovative coating enables each component to function as expected day-to-day, in the event of a fire it allows greater time for evacuation by slowing the rate of heat, smoke and carbon monoxide release for up to 180 seconds.
When treated with DragonCoat under test conditions, suspension springs were shown to retain their essential characteristics without compromising unit performance in terms of consistency, reliability and antivibration. Further to this, when exposed to a gas flame, components protected by DragonCoat released minimal heat and smoke, and self-extinguished within 12 minutes.
With around 80% of fire-related deaths a result of smoke inhalation, this drastically reduces the risk of exposure to harmful emissions and crucially gives passengers more time to evacuate in the event of a fire, potentially saving hundreds of lives.
For more information about Trelleborg’s innovative solutions for rail, please visit www.trelleborg.com