Automation in Railways: How it Can Transform the Transport Sector

Automation in railways is a new concept that has the potential to revolutionize the transportation sector. The demand for transport services has outgrown the sector's capabilities. It is no longer viable to meet demand by expanding the physical capacity of transportation networks in the current environment of climate and pollution concerns. Instead, we require more creative answers, which technology may help to facilitate.

The adoption of technology in the railway sector has been slower than in other transportation business sectors. Most of the Americas, Europe, and Asia still rely heavily on human labor to plan and operate trains. How can railway operators reap significant benefits from sophisticated control and automation?

Control and Automation in Transportation System

About a century back, people used the hand-held throttle to control speed and steered with a tiller. Manual controls were used to handle the choke valve, carburetor, and starter. Most of these tasks are now automated. It is almost unbelievable how automated driving has become with driverless vehicles. As these vehicles gain popularity, they will clear up the area used by chauffeurs and help people realize the enormous potential of automation.

People can automate the operation of a complicated system's component pieces once they grasp the cause-and-effect relationship between systems. Railways are prepared for such a change.

How Automation can Transform Railways

The cost of expanding the rail network's capacity is high, and efficiency gains are not always commensurate. The American Institute of Civil Engineers scored the US railway system C+ despite a 75-billion-dollar investment in it between 2009 and 2013. Adding sophisticated sense-analyze-control algorithms to the current infrastructure is a significantly less expensive alternative. These techniques handle enormous volumes of data processing and outperform people who cannot handle a lot of information at once. Trains can operate quicker, with fewer stops, and with more frequency thanks to precise tracking and motion prediction, raising the current infrastructure's operational capacity.

In India, we are aware that the existing dispatching techniques are as effective as humanly feasible, but the operative word here is "humanly." They are based on more than a century of organizational experience. The advantage of automation is that it is always able to extract every last bit of efficiency that an unskilled, preoccupied, or worn-out human dispatcher may have missed.

Use of Artificial General Intelligence in Railways

Train reordering decisions are influenced by several competing factors, including train priorities, downstream disputes with other trains, freight loads, and passenger connections. It can be challenging for human personnel to analyze all of these determinants at the same time and come up with an optimal solution for the entire system.

In such cases, a 'sense-analyze-respond' system operates well. The 'sense' attribute combines a large set of information about the condition of trains in the system, the 'analyze' component evaluates the implications of each possible option, and the 'respond' element allocates different track assets to each train, putting physical capabilities and safety rules into account. Below are the benefits of this approach:

• One system can alleviate the task load of multiple operators.
• It enhances the solution's efficiency (for example, the system can discover what is happening across the entire division rather than just one small area).
• It is more efficient and precise than manual decision-making, resulting in secure and on-time transportation.

Automated systems learn from previous actions thanks to Artificial General Intelligence's advancement, making them more effective over time. As a result, the train dispatching system can learn from the successes and failures of previous scheduling decisions. By detecting the long-term effects of short-term decisions, these technological improvements let us run more efficient and reliable operations.

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