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F1 technology can improve efficiency of rail – ATOC

Rail has much to learn from Formula 1 racing to improve reliability, efficiency and green technology, ATOC has said.

Train companies can use telemetry to identify mechanical or engineering problems before parts fail, and use ‘pitstop’ maintenance to cut the time for repairs.

The average mileage between technical failures on rail fleets has increased by 142% over the last ten years, ATOC said. Using energy savings devices such as regenerative braking can save up to 20% of electricity, which is similar to KERS used on F1. This is now being introduced on the railways.

Some trains are now fitted with displays linked to GPS trackers advising the best speed to drive at, again taking inspiration from driving technology.

Louise Shaw, head of engineering at the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), said:  “By investing in new trains and technology, train companies have been able to improve reliability and safety on the railways and make trains more efficient to run. This has helped to turned around decades of decline on the railways and attract more passengers, with train travel now more popular than it’s been for over 90 years. The less time trains spend being repaired, the more time they can be out on the tracks helping get passengers to where they want to go.”

Kirsty Andrew, head of commercial operations, Williams Advanced Engineering, said: “Modern F1 cars are hybrids and Williams is now working to adapt our green technology expertise and introduce it into a range of applications. Public transport is a prime candidate and we are already seeing strong interest from train companies who want to improve the energy efficiency of their fleet.”

For more on how rail can learn from the race track, see RTM’s recent interview with Damien Scott, general manager of the Williams Technology Centre in Qatar.

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