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A quick and accurate way of identifying rolling stock units requires linking information from rolling stock monitoring equipment to the right unit at a relatively high speed. According to EIM Europe (www.eimrail.org), experience shows that RFID is the best solution for this.
ID tags are mounted directly to the wagons or locomotives, with the reader antennae on the trackside (reader between the tracks is not good since any maintenance requires the track to be closed, and also since the environmental demands are quite severe including heavy shock stress, water and snow).
Nor should proprietary technology be used. Implementation of RFID based on standards will essentially result in increased competitiveness for railways as it will enable the infrastructure managers, rolling stock holders and operators to track and follow rolling stock units. EIM recommends the use of RFID according to ISO18000-6C, complemented with standards that define the rolling stock unit identity, location of the reader, time and date.
Introducing passive technology (tags without battery) leads to a more efficient and cost-effective system, that is environmental friendly, competitive and can be used throughout large geographical areas. Tags must last for 20 years or more to survive the railcar live-time; broken tags are not easily changed in a rail environment.
RFID also makes it possible to identify problems with units at an early stage so that their maintenance can be planned in a proactive way in connection with rolling-stock monitoring equipment, for example hot axle-box detectors, so that deterioration and maintenance costs of the tracks and embankments will be reduced. This has a positive effect on traffic delays and the costs for infrastructure and rolling-stock maintenance and its utilization.
Other benefits include more efficient formatting of trains, accurate information for rescue and safety agencies, and a better charging system for track fees based on actual use – mileage and weight. Track fees will in a short future increase in importance since that will be the only way for IMs to regulate vehicles wear on the track.
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