Connected Trains: All Onboard the Kontron IoT COTS Express

Whether taking the commuter train or a cross-country or intercontinental express, we hope to take for granted that reasonable standards of comfort, safety, security and reliability are provided – wherever and whenever we climb onboard.

But things could be a whole lot better – if only those unexpected delays and disruptions to normal service could be ruled out! How many times do we hear over the station or train PA an announcement saying that due to an unforeseen mechanical breakdown, track obstruction or congestion we will unfortunately experience the late arrival or departure of our train? At least it would be less stressful and more productive if we had fast access to the internet, email and social media while we’re waiting!


There has already been much talk about ‘connected trains’

This is where train operators have advanced warning systems and ‘all seeing’ intelligence to avoid unplanned delays, improve reliability, security and safety, while also delighting passengers with fast Internet connectivity and video content as well as video surveillance systems with analytics and post analysis capabilities. Without doubt, the convergence of digital technology and faster Ethernet and Wi-Fi networks has already made considerable progress in this direction. But there is still a long way to go and until now the high cost and time to systems deployment have been key factors in restricting availability to selected trains and routes.



The good news is that the pace of change and possibilities available will now accelerate and expand rapidly thanks to the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) combined with the next generation of COTS embedded technology platforms. Following the IP (Internet Protocol) on train system evolution, the new IoT enabled COTS (commercial off the shelf systems) next generation train system architectures means operators and their suppliers can now implement massively-connected real-time information systems much more quickly, with more functionality and at far less cost than ever before.    


The COTS approach is non-proprietary and therefore enables flexibility for OEM system designers

OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and SIs (System Integrators) can focus on innovating their specific software applications in the sure knowledge their COTS, IoT- enabled embedded hardware platform is already fully validated and certified, compatible with their solution, and has huge scalability ‘built-in’ for full-scale deployment. COTS will therefore act as the catalyst in bringing high-performance, connected train information systems to market much faster.

As an established global provider of train, wayside and station platform systems, Kontron is already helping OEM and SI customers take advantage of the new fast-emerging ‘Transportation 4.0’ market opportunities – in both retrofit and brand new rolling stock situations. Our off-the-shelf TRACe™ EN50155-certified transportation computer family is IoT-ready and the small footprint and low-profile design optimises available space. An integrated health management monitoring API (Application Program Interface) puts clear and holistic information at the user’s fingertips, whether for accessing train management, passenger service or video surveillance system health and availability. Health management capabilities provide the resource for allowing system operators to go from simply reactive to positively proactive in managing application functionality and uptime. Significant efficiencies and benefits from remote monitoring, fleet availability, serviceability and anticipated maintenance can now be achieved that were not available previously.

Furthermore, TRACe’s open architecture and future-proofed design ensures compatibility with any operating system and future processor developments which means, together with our long lead time support, product lifecycles can be extended for many years for maximum customer ROI.    


It’s a win win situation for our OEM customers, their train operator customers – and passengers

The train operators will be able to take full advantage of the IoT by securely capturing and analysing unprecedented volumes of data from each and every train. Control centres will be in constant real-time communication with all trains and empowered to conduct remote monitoring and diagnostics of their ‘vital signs’, ensuring smoother, safer, more reliable and cost-effective running of the whole service.

At the same time, operators have the data they need for performing predictive and preventative maintenance, leading to reduced operating costs and significantly extended train service life. Last but not least, they have the opportunity to introduce new revenue earning services such as paid for video content on train TV and travellers’ BYODs (Bring Your Own Device).

Passengers are happier and safer too, thanks to connected security systems, an enhanced passenger infotainment experience, and of course on-board train and station personnel fully equipped for dispensing precise details on train status and advance warnings of any external events impacting on journey times.

No surprise therefore that the train information systems market is growing rapidly. Kontron’s focus on providing IoT-ready COTS platforms based on German and French engineering quality and Silicon Valley innovation is proving to be a compelling proposition to customers. This will ensure we remain on the right track for serving their needs as the Transportation Systems market continues to evolve in the new IoT connected world.    

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What is your experience with connected trains?

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