The European Space Agency (ESA) has ‘launched’ the web site SPACE4RAIL to highlight challenges and needs in the rail sector that could be met using space-based solutions, and to explain how ESA co-funding programmes can help the sector.
According to ESA, rail companies worldwide are starting to explore the commercial and operational benefits of integrating space technologies in their systems.
Suitable applications it cited are train positioning and signalling, locomotive performance monitoring, communications for maintenance crews, level crossing safety, and monitoring for landslides and subsidence. Users range from rail operating companies to the organisations responsible for maintaining rail infrastructure and even banks that in some cases own the rolling stock or other assets.
The ESA programmes included in the Space4Rail initiative are:
Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES)
General Support Technology Programme (GSTP)
Technology Research Programme (TRP)
General Studies Programme (GSP)
ESA said it can offer expert advice on the use of its laboratories and its knowledge of space. The Agency can also serve as a broker between the space industry, the railway industry, and service providers.
“We believe space assets have tremendous potential to serve the rail industry,” said ESA's Michele Castorina, who was instrumental in establishing the new portal. “The challenge is to adapt the technology to the various national rail networks, many of which have unique characteristics and requirements.”
The new portal can be found at: http://space4rail.esa.int/