How to Improve Safety At Your Freight Yard

The railroad industry is centered around strong safety culture. Daily safety briefings, peer-to-peer safety…
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The railroad industry is centered around strong safety culture. Daily safety briefings, peer-to-peer safety programs, and training programs are just some of the ways that railroads ensure that the safety of their workforce and operations comes first. As with any industry, applying new technology into safety measures helps the railroad industry improve. Let’s take a look at some of the recent technological advancements being implemented in freight yards to improve safety.

Remote Control Locomotives


Remote Control Locomotives (RCL) allow personnel to control and operate trains with hand-held transmitters. This reduces the chance that a train engineer may accidentally injure another worker because of a miscommunication. Federal Railroad Administration data shows that worker injury rates are 20 percent lower for RCL operations than for conventional switching operations.

Reducing Human Error


Implementing technology is an effective way to reduce human error. Positive Train Control (PTC) is a technology that greatly reduces the number of accidents caused by human error by automatically stopping or slowing a train. By the end of 2020, PTC will be implemented across all of the required Class I route miles across the United States.

PTC technology is designed to prevent human-error accidents including train-to-train collisions, derailments due to excessive speed, unauthorized train movement onto tracks that are under maintenance, and the moving of a train through an incorrect track switch.

Freight Yard Surveillance

Every yard management system needs the peace of mind provided by a video surveillance system capable of 24/7 continuous recording. Outdoor security cameras with night vision and two-way audio are ideal for motion detection, including person detection.

Modern wireless security cameras utilize cloud storage to scale video storage to meet retention needs. Instead of recording video footage onto a hard drive or MicroSD card, cloud server-based security systems retain video records in remote servers. Business owners can access live video or live feed using a mobile app from anywhere with an internet connection.

For example, Verkada is a security company that features cloud storage for security cameras. Verkada keeps video clips from your outdoor cameras secure and accessible with Wi-Fi. Using a cloud service results in a 1080p video quality recording of any security camera regardless of the field of view. Yard managers can also use a nest camera setup to get live views and capture a wide field of view video clips of the yard. Keep your terminal premises safe from burglars and intruders with a cloud recording security camera system.

Keeping a Healthy Track


Ultrasound technology has been used for years to look inside of a track to determine its health. Track check-ups identify invisible imperfections before they can become dangerous for trains. Ultrasound technology has proven effective, but freight rail researchers are looking at how implementing listening technology can better spot track imperfections.

Freight rail researchers are using underground fiber-optic cables to listen to acoustic signatures transmitted by trains as they travel along any segment of track. Fiber-optic cables allow them to spot real-time variations in sound and detect safety issues such as deteriorating tracks, failing brakes, and trespassing pedestrians walking along the tracks.

Class I railroads in the U.S. are also using drones to monitor the health of railroad tracks from above the ground. Drones are able to explore thousands of miles of track to inspect bridges and tracks in remote terrain or during severe weather situations to ensure trains can safely pass.

General Safety Rules


In addition to the improvements in safety that come with technology, all freight yard workers need to adhere to general safety rules. Railway yards are full of potentially hazardous situations that require workers to stay alert and aware of their surroundings. Trains need a long distance to reach a full stop and do have blindspots where conductors can’t see pedestrians or vehicles. Engines, rail cars, and other moving equipment can move without warning at any time and in any direction.

Railway yards depend on reliable utilities to operate, which means a need for solutions and equipment that can support the grid in the event of an emergency or planned outages. Taking a proactive approach to potential vulnerabilities is essential to building a resilient network that minimizes customer interruption frequency and duration.

Southern States has over a century of experience integrating high voltage switcher equipment into a mobile substation and auxiliary trailer designs. They design, manufacture, and retrofit switcher trailers to meet customer specifications and DOT standards by repurposing empty trailers. These mobile substation trailers will get your railyard through outages whiles reducing maintenance costs, maximizing utilization, and gaining a return on investment.

The electrical manufacturer offers design options that support ease of operation, safety, space limitation, and budget using the highest quality components. They also specialize in auxiliary mobile trailers including mobile capacitor trailers, mobile circuit switcher trailers, recloser trailers, and disconnect switch trailers. Ensuring the safety of your railyard starts by ensuring outages will never disrupt operations.

The use of remote control locomotives and the latest methods for keeping a healthy track is new technologies that should be implemented to improve the safety of your freight yard, so it’s worthwhile to look into the additional features available and find a great choice for your yard.