Of all the infrastructure grades from the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers), rail has received the highest grade of a B on the most recent report card. The transportation system has been critical for the U.S. in years past—and will continue to have new needs in the years ahead.
Technology continues to advance alongside it, especially considering the need for safety on the railways. The ASCE even says that rail accidents and derailments are down nearly 50% in the last decade. Many initiatives are underway to further improve safety, such as the federal government’s interest in PTC (positive train control), which is signal technology designed to prevent collisions and ensure safe operating speeds.
Railroads have also seen a surge in new technologies to monitor the health of the rails and target problem areas for maintenance. The ASCE even says monitoring prevented more than 1,000 service interruptions in 2015.
The technology continues to advance as well, as companies are making big moves in the area of rail. For instance, Bentley Systems recently announced the acquisition of SignCAD Systems, which is a provider of traffic sign design software. The offerings include sign design, sign manufacturing, and asset management software solutions.
The addition complements Bentley’s OpenRoads civil design software for road projects and builds out Bentley’s set of solutions for design and construction of transportation. Additionally, the acquisition will help maintain safer construction work zones, while sustaining roadway performance criteria for the public.
While rail has one of the highest infrastructure grades, much still needs to be done to ensure it maintains and even raises the grade. Rail still faces some challenges, particularly in passenger rail, which has aging infrastructure and insufficient funding, according to the ASCE.
Going forward, new technologies will continue to be essential to ensure safe operation and construction of rail projects all across the globe.
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