All railway facilities are provided with operating procedures to guarantee the existence of safe working areas for the different uses of the infrastructure.
In this way, interlocking devices are essential to ensure safety and functionality, together with railway traffic management systems. However, most of these systems do not take into account one type of users: on-track staff.
For this reason, it is necessary to implement complementary and additional safety protocols in order to regulate safe access for on-track staff so that the different work teams can safely carry out maintenance activities. These protocols involve standing orders, regulations and double checking through communications with the control office, the establishment of temporary speed restrictions when there is staff working near the track, orders to run at sight or any other procedure that can be supported by the signaling and traffic management systems.
Nevertheless, these measures reduce but do not eliminate the risk of an accident. Accordingly, the main purpose of this research is to develop a system to ensure safe undertaking of railway maintenance activities, including a portable geolocation device to determine the position of on-site staff. High accuracy must be maintained when calculating the staff position in exterior areas (zones with GPS coverage and others) as well as in those areas without satellite positioning system coverage (tunnels, inside stations or buildings, etc.).
To this end, Auxitec, a company belonging to Getinsa-Payma Group, has decided to have the support of an American manufacturer and participate in the CDTI funding program for international R+D+i projects in the US market.
Furthermore, due to the goals set and to the interrelations between the different devices, this project will have a direct application in other railway safety systems, such as the Positive Train Control (PTC) or ERTMS Level 3.