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Role of Automation in Railway Electronic Interlocking

Role of Automation in Railway Electronic Interlocking

In today’s world, when technology is everywhere, the railway industry is doing every bit to match-up with speed. Automation is known to be the creation of technology & its application to control and monitor the services to perform tasks that were earlier performed by humans. Automation plays a vital role in the advancement of science & technology. Today more than ever, speed, reliability and convenience are the most crucial deciding factors to ensure the desirability of modern mass transit railways and for their commercial success. The key to meeting these criteria is the optimum line utilization through railway automation.

In this article, we will see the role automation plays in railway’s electronic interlocking.

Automation and Electronic Interlocking System

The interlocking system is one of the most crucial elements of railway signalization systems to ensure safe transportation. They monitor & control train movements on the lines as per the operational requirements of the railway. Software design of the electronic interlocking systems can be performed using different methods such as automaton method, Petri nets. These systems can be quickly implemented by mechanical components or electronic devices such as Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). Furthermore, the completely preassembled & tested interlocking designed, such as modular containers, play a crucial role in cutting time and cost required for installation and commissioning, and it also helps to reduce the investment costs. Microprocessor-based interlocking with straightforward configuration using the ladder logic to deliver almost any vital functionality, the system offers the real benefits to the railway authorities. The benefits usually come in terms of cost of ownership, capability and flexibility and the typical applications include simple, medium-sized & complex interlocking, radio block systems, trackside control – and there’s a provision of vital functionality in Centralized Traffic Control Systems. Microcomputer interlocking is a high-availability & high-reliability interlocking and, due to its modular hardware and software, it results in a versatile electronic interlocking solution. This system also enables the implementation of both simple regional & line interlocking and complex junction interlocking.

Electronic interlocking brings in the economical solution for interlocking systems in the main-line & regional traffic and for industrial railways all around the world. The compact, modular design of this new interlocking generation can be adjusted quickly & easily to the local conditions and the electronic operational requirements of a particular railway company. Efficient utilization of a marshalling yard is dependent on the modern track equipment such as signalling systems, point machines, sensors, efficient retarders and propulsion systems, as well as on the radio-controlled humping locomotives and appropriately-adapted microcomputer systems. It is a safe, reliable, and cost-effective solution for bringing automation in the marshalling system. The electronic-based interlocking solution not only delivers greater capacity than conventional interlocking but also brings in significant savings and headroom for future expansion.

How WAGO fits in?

WAGO’s enormous product range of electrical interconnection, interface and automation technologies enable them to provide an appropriate, reliable solution for all railway applications that can be installed quickly and easily.

The automation technology used by WAGO is– versatile, offers open standards, simplifies the railway’s production process & building applications and offers an all-encompassing product selection for the railway industry. You can find solutions from software, HMI devices & control technology through Fieldbus-independent I/O systems – all the way to switches & sensor/actuator boxes under one umbrella. Flexibility and freedom in planning are the major advantages that come with modular and Fieldbus-independent devices used for decentralized automation. In the year 1995, WAGO broke ground when it introduced a Fieldbus system in the automation sector where the Fieldbus nodes could be precisely matched to fit a specific application based on the building block principle. Since then, WAGO has continued to expand and further develop its system with modern control technology and displays.

Furthermore, IRIS certification has been the key to the international railway industry for WAGO & its customers. WAGO was, in fact, one of the first companies in the field of electrical interconnection & automation technology to gain the IRIS certification, which is according to the new international railway standard. This clearly implies that railway industry suppliers relying on WAGO products will be spared the expense of customized audits & assessments.