Passenger Information Systems Keep Rail Riders Informed

By Contributed Article | May 17, 2022

Passenger Information Systems technologies that deliver timely and accurate travel information help make commuter rail networks efficient and user-friendly. Reliable and rugged interconnects are an essential link in the network.

Passenger Information Systems

In today’s sophisticated rail networks, timeliness is designed into the tightly controlled system. That means even the slightest hitch with one train or line can have a knock-on effect on the overall timetable. Train operators meticulously prepare for such eventualities. A fastidious response to such a situation includes synchronized communication technologies that keep the passengers informed about delays and readjusted timetables. To gather and share this information, network (infrastructure) and train (service) operators have invested greatly in passenger information systems (PISs).

Timetable details, maps, safety announcements, updates about delays, and other important news for travelers are all managed by the PIS. This content is displayed at stations, in railcars, at ticketing points, and at transfer facilities to provide detailed visual information to commuters. Announcements made over loudspeakers reinforce this information in an audio format. Passengers may also access PIS content via rail-specific apps on their mobile devices, enabling them to view timetables in real time throughout their travels. The PIS collects and shares data from various points in the network through a variety of cameras, display monitors, GPS units, and signal control systems controlled from cabinets. Wi-Fi, Ethernet, global positioning system (GPS), and global system for mobile communications (GSM) networks coordinate the delivery of real-time data across multiple points in the rail network.

This is more than just useful information. It helps keep passengers informed about their journey and promotes general safety, which are vital for the passengers’ satisfaction and ultimately contribute towards the growth of ridership. Therefore, it is essential that train manufacturers provide a reliable onboard PIS.

The challenge

Although rail technology has progressed leaps and bounds, the operating environment for these communication technologies still presents extreme challenges. Dust, moisture, dirt, and oil are omnipresent in rail environments, and heat, electromagnetic interference, shock, and vibration are also vying to disrupt or fatally corrupt the connections. Ruggedized components are essential.

In one such example, a Chinese high-speed train manufacturer was struggling to establish stable communication signals. The company identified the root cause as the connectors, which were losing a reliable connection under the continuous jarring movement of the train. This resulted in signal failure, premature deterioration of components, and high maintenance costs.

Smiths Interconnects M12 rail for passenger information systems

Smiths Interconnect’s Robust and Reliable M12 Connector System is a compact solution for rugged environments where space and weight are key concerns. This timesaving, reliable, and tool-free solution is qualified to French and European rail standards.

The manufacturer identified the need for more rugged and resilient interconnect technology for use in the PIS cabinets. These connectors needed to be robust, lightweight, compact, easy to assemble, and configurable for different applications and models. After reviewing various products, the customer found the ideal solution in Smiths Interconnect’s M12 connectors.

The solution

Based on the high-performance Hypertac Hyperboloid contact technology, these compact connectors are designed for challenging operating conditions. Their “basket of wires” design provides continuous points of contact and a unique side-loading contact retention system that minimizes friction through even the roughest of rides. Meanwhile, an IP67 metal shell and 360° shielding against electromagnetic interference (EMI) gives them comprehensive protection against ingress and electronic interference. These features enable the connectors to provide unparalleled immunity to the shock, vibration, and environmental impacts found in rail environments, ensuring uninterrupted signal integrity.

The contact design is streamlined, which minimizes stocking requirements and allows for tool-free assembly for faster, cheaper production. Furthermore, the M12 series includes up to eight insert options within a common housing design, with both crimp and solder contact terminations available, which gives the customer maximum flexibility. These connectors meet various global rail industry requirements, including safety standards for fire and smoke. They are available in A- and D-coded versions.

The rail manufacturer wanted to incorporate the M12 connectors into their cabinets quickly. Smiths Interconnect helped the customer reconfigure their PIS cabinet to support easy upgrades and maintenance, and better meet changing requirements. The supplier offered other valuable suggestions, such as the use of color coding for quicker identification and improved instructions to speed up the assembly process.

Through this close collaboration, the train manufacturer, gained an important operational and competitive advantage through the implementation of a reliable and durable interconnect solution that supports critical PIS networks. In the end, rail passengers enjoy access to the information they need to have a pleasant and efficient travelling experience.

By Smiths Interconnects.

Like this article? Check out our other ruggedized, circular connectors, and networking articles, our Transportation Market Page, and our 2022 Article Archive

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