Transport of delight

Sustainability starts the moment you decide to leave your car at home and take the train instead.  

Start a conversation about sustainable transport and it will pretty quickly turn into a debate about technology. Energy-efficient signalling? Yes, that’s part of the solution. Eco-friendly driving aids for trains? Naturally. Traffic management to keep everything moving? We couldn’t agree more.

At Thales, we love technology. And we live it every day of our working lives. It’s in our DNA.

But when it comes to sustainability, technology is not the whole answer. It’s an enabler. The real answer is people: you, me, all of us. Because it’s the decisions we make every day that drive sustainability.

You can build the greenest, most energy-efficient rail network in the world. But you’ve also got to give your customers good reasons to use it. Not just because they have to, but because they want to. 

That means reassuring them. Even delighting them. And above all, giving them an excuse to leave the car at home.

Sustainability isn’t only a tech challenge. It’s also a human challenge. And the best way to deal with a human challenge is to listen to the questions people are asking. For Thales, technology is what happens after you have understood the question.

What are you doing to make my journey easier?

Convenience is the deciding factor for passengers. From journey planning apps to next-generation Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) with integrated ticketing, the smartphone is the heart of the action. Operators need to adapt to this world. That means providing accurate real-time information and getting ready to participate in end-to-end multimodal journeys with rail as the backbone.

Thales’ answer: our new Mobility Platform is designed to meet these needs, now and in the future. The platform works by turning raw operational data into accurate real-time information, including predictive insights for both the operator and the passenger. And we’re providing operators with insights into passenger numbers on platforms and trains with our new big data solution, NAIA. 

Will my train arrive on time?

Punctuality problems are a number-one worry for passengers. On some networks, delays are the main reason potential travellers reach for their car keys in the morning. Yet one of the most common reasons for delays – equipment failure – can be predicted. This applies to just about any technical asset, from point machines to radio comms on busy metro systems. 

Thales’ answer: to make sure trains arrive on time, we have developed a solution that can predict technical problems with your assets, so you can send someone out to maintain them before they go wrong. This solution is called TIRIS™. It’s available today and our customers are already using it to predict problems with everything from point machines and track circuits to radio communications on metros. TIRIS™ is one of a growing number of services offered on our new Digital Platform.

How about making trains more frequent?

Waiting for trains can be frustrating, especially on busy platforms at peak times. The trouble is that traditional signalling restricts how many trains operators can run – and how long you have to wait between trains. 

Thales’ answer: our communications-based train control (CBTC) solution, Thales SelTrac™ CBTC, meets the need for fast, frequent services on metro and urban rail networks. On the London Underground in the UK, for example, Thales SelTrac™ CBTC signalling for four of London’s busiest lines will play a key part in delivering a 33% increase in peak-hour capacity. Thales SelTrac™ CBTC is now used on 86 metro lines in more than 40 major cities around the world.

What about making my journey greener? 

Everybody wants to do their bit for the environment and rail’s green credentials make it an attractive transport choice. Rail ticks all the boxes in terms of emissions and energy efficiency. But we know that environmental performance is a moving target. That’s why we’re always striving to improve the solutions we offer. 

Thales’ answer: on metros and urban rail networks, our latest CBTC solution, Thales SelTrac™ G7, reduces a train’s energy consumption by 15%. We already offer Green CBTC. On main lines, our traffic management system ARAMIS helps to keep everything moving. And our driver advisory system, GreenSpeed, improves punctuality and cuts power consumption by up to 8%. In the near future, autonomous trains will deliver further energy savings on both metro and main line networks. 

How can you make me feel safer?

Rail is the safest form of land transport and accidents are rare. What worries passengers, though, is personal safety: the fear of being attacked. Today, the chances of an attacker being caught on a moving train are minimal – and attackers know this. Even if CCTV is available on a train (or on a platform for that matter), there are now simply too many cameras to watch all the time.

Thales’ answer: to meet the need for enhanced passenger comfort and security, we have developed a video analytics solution that automatically detects violent acts and generates an instant alert, so operators can respond at the first signs of trouble. Based on artificial intelligence, our new video analytics solution works on moving trains and there’s no need for a dedicated video link.  

Finally, what are you doing to stop hackers?

Hacking and malicious attacks are a clear and present danger for organisations that operate critical infrastructure – and railways are no exception. Public sensitivity to cyber issues continues to rise and, as the recent data breach at a major airline shows, the transport sector is an attractive target for cyber criminals. Passengers and operators need to be confident that critical systems and data privacy are protected at all times.

Thales’ answer: we safeguard every aspect of our customers’ operations with solutions that are Cybersecured by Design. This makes it possible not only to detect and react to threats, but also to prevent malicious attacks from happening in the first place. Thales is a leader in this domain: we protect 80% of the world’s banking transactions and secure the information systems of 19 of the world’s 20 largest banks.