In comparison to other industries, the rail sector has long been recognized for its conservative approach. With passenger numbers set to increase over the next 30 years and greater competition between operators, train builders need to start looking at ways to enhance their offering, and taking advantage of emerging technologies is central to this. Not only will innovation secure new sources of revenue, but it will help operators remain competitive and distinguish their offering.
There’s no doubt the rail industry has achieved great things over the years, particularly taking into account many services still operate on historic infrastructure. Even so, there needs to be a greater drive in the uptake of new technologies and pushing innovation is the key. One way this can be achieved is through supplier engagement. By working with suppliers from the outset, new products which help improve efficiency and reduce costs can be specified. By working collaboratively, train builders can take advantage of new products which satisfy both operator and passenger needs.
An example of such an approach is antivibration components, which play an important role in maintaining passenger comfort and safety, and also protect the train itself. An increase in passenger numbers and operating periods means the components must work even harder than before and developing products which satisfy the demands of modern day rail services is crucial.
Take Trelleborg’s hydraulic axle guide bearing (HALL). This is the latest product innovation which is set to improve comfort and safety, as well as train life service and operating costs. HALL combines a low longitudinal stiffness for negotiating curves with high longitudinal stiffness for operating along a straight track, all in a single component.
Offering a host of benefits, the bearing is flexible at low loading speeds and comparatively stiff for higher loading speeds to ensure a safe run of the bogie on the train. What’s more, it can reduce the wear on wheels and track and conserve energy due to less friction, in turn minimizing life cycle costs. As the HALL bearing fits in the existing space for conventional axle guide bearing, it can be integrated into existing as well as new vehicles without structural modifications to the bogie.
Safety will always be paramount, and another way in which Trelleborg has demonstrated its commitment to product innovation is through the development of DragonCoat. A flexible coating which is smoke and fire retardant, DragonCoat delays the effects of fire on rubber products. In the unlikely event of a fire, the coating improves customer safety by increasing escape time. Not only this, but the flexibility of the product is such that the spring itself retains all its performance characteristics in terms of suspension.
For more information about Trelleborg’s antivibration components for the rail sector, visit www.trelleborg.com