MicroBriefly: Rail safety with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) systems

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Singapore, #microwireinfo, March 29, 2019 – Rail-based transportation are relied upon by hundreds and thousands of commuters daily around the Asia Pacific, from Singapore, Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan, and mainland China. Reliability of rail transportation is paramount, just as safety is.

Signaling systems are an integral part of a rail system and network, as commonly seen in the Asia Pacific rail and high-performance maglev networks. At the heart of signaling systems are controllers (programmable logic controllers or PLCs).

Bespoke or custom-designed proprietary systems and products are sometimes used for a rail system moving forward, but costs tend to be prohibitive, while development talents may be few and far between.

As we have seen from cases where legacy (i.e. obsolete) and modern systems and products cannot meld together to provide seamless integration, troubles can result, including that of shutdowns and collisions, as seen in both the Singapore MRT and the Hong Kong MTR networks.

According to industrial safety vendor HIMA, COTS (commercially off-the-shelf) controllers may be the answer, not only for improving the reliability and safety of rail systems, but also provide cybersecurity (according to the likes of IEC 62443). Download their white paper here.