In a recently signed agreement, Knorr-Bremse Nordic Rail Services AB, a subsidiary of Knorr- Bremse, is to sell its Swedtrac service business to Stadler Service Sweden AB, a subsidiary of Stadler. The transaction is expected to close at the end of Q1 2018.
Knorr-Bremse is undertaking a strategic realignment of its vehicle services business in the Swedish and Scandinavian market. “We are continuing to focus on our core competencies as a key supplier for the railway industry – offering subsystems and components and the related services. For a leading independent rolling stock manufacturer like Stadler, Swedtrac will create substantial added value and drive forward the development of the company. Knorr-Bremse and Stadler have had good, longstanding business relations at all levels for many years. So, in the future, Knorr-Bremse will support Swedtrac with subsystems for vehicle refurbishment,” says Klaus Deller, Chairman of the Executive Board of Knorr- Bremse AG and responsible for the Rail Vehicle Systems division.
Jürg Gygax, Executive Vice President of Stadler Service AG, stresses the importance of Swedtrac for Stadler: “Stadler Service is proud to be expanding its modernisation activities of existing vehicle fleets with this takeover. This is the perfect way to incorporate our knowhow about a wide model range of complete trains and to ensure even greater customer proximity.”
Keeping trains safe
Cylus, an Israeli startup developing cybersecurity solutions for railways and metros, has raised $4.7 million in seed funding to continue to meet the cybersecurity challenges facing the rail industry.
In recent years, rail companies in the US, UK, Germany, South Korea and Sweden have all been targeted by hackers. This dramatic rise in threat levels has raised awareness regarding significant security deficits throughout the rail industry. New technologies are regularly being introduced for safety, train control, and passenger convenience, but until now, no comprehensive solution has been created to sufficiently protect the rail industry from malicious cyber-attacks.
“Current approaches to cybersecurity do not fit the architecture of railway networks today,” confirmed Cylus CEO Amir Levintal. “Our team of world-class cyber specialists together with rail industry experts have tailored a solution to the industry’s unique requirements. Our solution enables rail companies to detect cyber-attacks in their operational network, including their signalling systems and rolling stocks, and block attackers before they can cause any damage. The automotive industry has woken up to the critical need for cyber protection – it’s time the railway industry got on board as well.”
As railways adopt more automated, wireless and connected technologies, their most safety-critical assets have become exposed to new and more dangerous types of cyberattacks. “Train attacks are no longer science fiction,” said investor and co-founder of Cylus, Zohar Zisapel. “Trains, passengers and critical railway infrastructure are undoubtedly high-quality targets for hackers. Cylus is laser-focused on protecting railway systems while enabling customers to swiftly adapt new technologies to reduce the risk to the public.”
Focusing on the issues
Network Rail is to harness the expertise of researchers at the University of Huddersfield in order to solve some of the most pressing issues facing modern railways, such as reliability of electric power supplies and how to maximise safety. Sir Peter Hendy, chair of Network Rail, paid a special visit to the University’s Institute of Railway Research (IRR) to see its state-of-the-art suite of labs and test facilities – it has recently been selected to lead UK Rail Research and Innovation Network’s (UKRRIN’s) £28 million Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock.
In addition to Sir Peter, senior members of Network Rail’s Safety, Technical and Engineering Directorate have also inspected the Institute’s facilities and talks have now been held on research and development collaboration. As a result, the IRR has signed an agreement to join Network Rail’s University Strategic Partnership programme and will start work on several projects, including pantograph and overhead line interaction dynamics, with the aim of reducing the incidence and consequence of failures to vehicle power collection systems. There will also be research into data analytics for switch and crossing predictive maintenance techniques, plus advanced text-based analysis of close-call incident reports, leading to understanding of risks to which rail workers and passengers are exposed.
Hand hygiene improvements
A ground-breaking washroom hand dryer has been developed by Sanitaryware Supplies Company (SSC) in conjunction with Train Bits and More Ltd (TBM) and Stream Hygiene, to specifically to meet the needs of the UK’s train operators.
Unable to find an equivalent dryer with an output wattage lower than 1100w in the marketplace, TBM approached SSC’s Bespoke Design Service. The new Rail Dryer, which is sold exclusively by SSC and Stream Hygiene, has been modified to run at a low operating wattage of only 550w.
The new Rail Hand Dryer has been UKAS accredited for use across all rail rolling stock in the UK. It has also been awarded the European Standard (EN) for emissions and immunity, helping rail companies further meet industryrecognised levels for carriage cleanliness and toilet facilities.
Andy Dukelow, Director of SSC, explained: “From the offset I knew this would be a challenging project but one that, if we got it right, would transform washrooms across the rail industry. I approached Stream Hygiene as I knew they were a flexible manufacturer willing to look at new options and markets, not only that, they also have the best and most extensive range of hand dryers in the market to work with.” Mark Lovelace, Director of Stream Hygiene added: “Rail passengers can now get the same high efficiency and low environmental impact they have been demanding in the washroom elsewhere.”
Good news for suppliers
Following a further agreement between the Official Receiver’s special manager, PwC, and Network Rail, around 300 of Carillion Construction Ltd’s smaller rail suppliers are to be paid the arrears they are owed. The agreement covers Carillion’s small rail suppliers’ arrears from Christmas time through to 15 January when the company went into liquidation and touches around two-thirds of Carillion’s rail supply chain. This is in addition to the earlier announcement that all certified work after 15 January to all suppliers on rail projects will be paid until further notice and that Carillion rail employees will be paid until at least mid-April.
Get on Trax
The National Skills Academy Rail (NSAR) has been awarded a grant by UFI Charitable Trust to fund a project to encourage young unemployed adults to consider careers within digital rail. Central to the project is the innovative way that technology will be used, working with a specialist technology partner to develop a digital platform, called ‘Trax’. It will host a series of videos that explore the roles and skills of specific rail employees. The young adults will be able to access the videos via mobile devices and social media sites, such as Snapchat and Instagram.
Knowledge in advance
A report from independent watchdog Transport Focus, Routine railway maintenance: passenger perspectives and priorities, has revealed that passengers say they will be understanding about routine railway maintenance even though it causes disruption – as long as they are given the right help and information. Transport Focus is now calling on industry to tell passengers why the work is happening, give passengers accurate, timely and reliable information at least 12 weeks in advance, and help passengers with plan B options.
Travel with a TAP
Cubic Corporation’s Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS) business division has been awarded a contract with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), to deliver an integrated mobile app in support of the TAP regional contactless fare system. TAP links 24 transit agencies across the Los Angeles region and the mobile app will provide travellers with a range of convenience tools to enhance their daily commute. Designed and delivered by Cubic, TAP is the largest regional smart card fare payment system in the US. More than two million active TAP card holders spend in excess of $320 million annually and take more than 450 million rides per year across the regional transit network.
Strikes affect house prices
According to house price analysis by online estate agents HouseSimple. com, average prices in towns on the main Southern Rail routes have risen just 2.17% over the past 12 months compared to UK-wide growth of 3.9%. As Alex Gosling, CEO HouseSimple.com comments: “For the past 12 months, homeowners have seen the value of their homes stagnate as walkout after walkout by RMT and ASLEF members had a devastating impact on the Southern Rail network. For those homeowners trying to move, very fewer buyers were willing to commit to a purchase along the Southern Rail routes while the strikes rumbled on and the ongoing industrial action clearly had a negative impact on local property prices. Now ASLEF has called off all future strikes, we should start to see more buyers committing to a purchase. And even though the RMT hasn’t followed ASLEF in halting its industrial dispute, local property markets can return to some semblance of normality.”