How IoT helps solve rail industry challenges

The future of the rail industry relies on intelligent transport systems that optimize resources and reduce costs. IoT has a lot to say here.


Communications are essential in all sectors, but in the land, sea and air transport sector they go one step further. The railway sector in particular is an industry that is increasingly using IoT-based solutions and secure wireless communication to interconnect both on-board equipment on trains and the infrastructure itself with control centers.

The future of the rail industry relies on intelligent, more automated and connected transport systems that optimise resources and reduce costs.

Therefore, the implementation of smart and secure IoT systems is becoming increasingly necessary, aimed at improving efficiency and communications and integrating data from the different control elements. This increases and improves all services associated with rail transport and interoperability with other modes of transport.

In this digitisation trend, in addition to IoT, other technologies such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence or LTE and 5G communications systems stand out. These technologies are enabling the transition towards the new smart trains, capable of making the most of all the information gathered from different points to improve decision-making in real time.

You may be interested to read : AIoT: the perfect fusion between the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence

Applications of digitisation in the railway sector

Edge Computing

The main uses of these technologies in the railway sector include the following:

  • Predictive maintenance of infrastructures: One of the biggest expenses of the railway industry is the cost of sending operators to fix equipment on board trains. Using technologies such as IoT and machine learning algorithms, failure prediction models can be obtained, capable of identifying deterioration and breakdowns in advance and thus scheduling preventive repairs. For example, by analyzing in real time the operation of automatic doors or air conditioning, it is possible to see the time of use of this equipment and prevent its deterioration.
  • Fleet monitoring: Through the use of sensors to control technical conditions and the environment or remote monitoring with GPS to know the exact location of trains, wagons and goods for the optimization of resources. For example, the use of sensors in the wheels and brakes of a train are able to detect changes in vibrations and predict situations that could cause an accident and thus be able to avoid it. Or on the other hand, the use of sensors in the railway infrastructure can detect and predict changes in temperature critical to passenger safety.
  • Improved customer service: From automatically replenishing restaurant cars, to measuring the number of passengers on trains and platforms to adjust train departure and arrival times. In addition, IoT can also improve the passenger experience with new techniques such as real-time GPS positioning via 5G networks over a Google Maps-like interface known as GeoTrain. In this way, passengers will be able to see on their mobile application the train's location in real time, their destination, the next stops, punctuality, etc., so that the services offered to the passenger are improved not only through information, but also through entertainment.
  • In short, real-time information on any device and from any device to manage the status of the trains. The next mobile communications system, FRMCS, will enable the implementation of a more reliable communications system with better features that will allow more information and data analysis for real-time decision-making for greater control of trains and greater flexibility in the operation of the industry. These technologies will even allow the automatic driving of trains.

The railway industry, a growing sector

Technological advances and digitalisation have reached a growing industry: according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) International Transport Forum, by 2050, passenger mobility will increase by 200-300% and freight activity by 150-250% compared to 2010.

Moreover, according to experts, the progressive incorporation of these technologies in the sector will reach a percentage of over 74% in 2025, compared to 50% in 2010. It should also be considered that this is an industry which, on a national level, represents approximately 6,500 million euros per year, integrates some 600 companies, 75% of which are SMEs, and creates some 145,000 jobs, both direct and indirect.

Barbara's EDGE platform in the railway sector

Optimising maintenance and data-driven decision making in the rail sector involves the development of Industrial IoT Edge solutions. Barbara IoT has the technology to solve the challenges faced by the rail industry in digitising train-borne assets and equipment.  

Barbara' s technology offers resilience to low coverage scenarios; cybersecurity by design, facilitating compliance with regulations and industry standards; and integration with industry protocols, enabling secure communication with on-board industrial equipment.

More specifically, Barbara's Edge technology allows:

1. Connect, analyse and manage data from any industrial asset and integrate it with remote business logic.

2. Develop, deploy, debug, operate and maintain edge computing applications and algorithms.

3. Protect equipment and data with cyber security mechanisms designed in accordance with industry standards such as IEC-62443.

You may be interested to know about:
Advantages of Edge Computing in Industrial Environments

If you want to know more about how Barbara IoT can help your use case, please contact us.