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How to Build Passenger Information Systems for both New and Refurbished Carriages

Whether an inter-city or commuter train operator is designing a new train, or refurbishing an older one, Moxa has a variety of highly efficient, reliable and affordable solutions for Passenger Information Systems (PIS) that will both increase customer satisfaction and improve operational performance.

As the mobile revolution surges forth, more and more customers are demanding quality Internet services as they commute to work or travel from city to city. In addition, transportation operators are looking to leverage evolving network technology to make their operations more secure, efficient and reliable. Traditional IT vendors are attempting to fill this gap, but the particular requirements of rapidly moving, on-board train, bus, and plane environments are something they are not well equipped to address. Industrial networking suppliers are better equipped to address these needs, which are growing as local and state governments are searching for more durable, reliable, and efficient solutions. These often take the form of Passenger Information Systems (PIS). PIS are rapidly evolving, with the most rapid adoption, development, and growth taking place along railways.

Train PIS installation can be divided into two categories. The first involves starting from scratch, on a new train, with no base network or system to build from. The other is the opposite situation: refurbishing aged or decaying infrastructure—both on the train itself as well as in the station—and incorporating outdated wiring technology with new networking devices.

Moxa offers attractive solutions that respect your budget for both scenarios.

For new trains, Moxa offers highly reliable, high-bandwidth Ethernet turbo rings, rail-level I/O modules for onboard asset monitoring, and flexible, location-based, intelligent (FLI) technology for automated configurations for all network stations, and automation networking solutions.

And for refurbishing old trains, with limitations of space and wiring, Moxa has compact devices which upgrade wire links for Ethernet systems, serve as integrated control and management platforms, and enable automatic carriage sequencing.

Modern Market Trends for Passenger Information Systems

An effective PIS is a valuable investment in the future for any public transportation system. It can not only make a passenger’s trip more convenient, but can also provide entertainment and opportunities for passenger interaction through a constantly expanding range of personalized services. These include distance and time to the destination, local weather reports, advertising, movies or games, and full or partial Internet access.

A modern PIS will also:

  • Store and transmit passenger information to the train operators, and help integrate onboard surveillance data.
  • Help railway personnel react more quickly to emergencies.
  • Allow local train operators, remote control rooms, and stations along the route to monitor occupancy and location.
  • Monitor and update onboard facilities such as HVACs, compressors, brakes, lights, etc in real-time.
  • Deter criminal activity and inappropriate passenger behavior, and create visual records if policing is required.

All of this is made possible thanks to the convergence of industrial automation networks with advanced Ethernet and wireless IT technologies.

Challenges and Considerations for New Trains

When designing a new train, an operator’s biggest concern is how to improve the riding experience of a passenger by effectively integrating multi-media services with real-time information. For these systems, the most important considerations are connection reliability, bandwidth, and multiple system redundancies with seamless failovers. The challenge is to create a network backbone that gives you the maximum available service, and securely and effectively integrates the interior architecture with electronic equipment. This requires careful planning and detailed consideration of all available options.

Some of these options are:

  1. Highly reliable, high-bandwidth Ethernet
    An Ethernet train network with our gigabit-bandwidth managed switch is an effective part of an integrated onboard solution. The built-in managed switch not only provides redundancy, but also provides gigabit bandwidth over the Ethernet (PoE) links. PoE cuts wiring needs, while the gigabit capacity provides a stronger and more reliable network structure for better guarantees that all video and audio data may be faultlessly transferred to centralized storage.
  2. Rail-level I/O Modules for Onboard Asset Monitoring
    EN 50155-certified I/O modules with channel-to-channel isolation should be a minimum requirement for the onboard train monitoring systems used to keep track of things like toilets, doors, HVAC, compressors, and brakes.
  3. Automated Configurations for all Network Stations
    Even experienced engineers find the configuration process for each individual device tedious and time-consuming, and for regular maintenance personnel it can become a nightmare. With Moxa’s FLI technology, system integrators can write the configuration to a file and store it on a master controller that will allow the autoconfiguration of all devices on the network, allowing for more efficient and rapid deployment and replacement.

Moxa Solution Highlights for New Trains

  • Turbo Ring, with 20 ms recoveries, anchoring a highly redundant Ethernet ring.
  • Rail-level remote monitoring using integrated ioPACs to manage I/O devices.
  • FLI Technology (Flexible, Location-based, Intelligent) automated configuration of networked devices to make replacement and maintenance much faster and simpler.
  • Automation networking solutions covering the full spectrum of onboard railway networking needs.

Challenges and Considerations for Refurbished Trains

Upgrading a PIS on an aging train is subject to constraints such as lack of space, obsolete wiring schemes, and other needs originally unanticipated by the train designers of yesteryear. For old trains like these that must integrate aging PIS equipment with newer technology, a compact controller that is both EN 50155 compliant as well as being equipped with a rich selection of serial, I/O, and Ethernet ports is a significant asset. The controller also has to be able to integrate a variety of subsystems so the PIS can integrate condition monitoring, the PA system, LED displays, and train information to give passengers and operators audio-visual updates on the status of the train.

For refurbishing trains, system upgrades are usually done by system integrators who specialize in reusing or repurposing as much of the extant legacy systems as possible, to maximize savings and interoperability. In doing so, they tend to run into the following common challenges,

  1. Deploying an IP network on legacy 2-wire links
    On old trains, connector pins across couplers are very limited. Even when you remove the existing RS-485 or CAN bus network, there are still only two wires available for access. System integrators who can upgrade these wires to handle IP communications offer a very enticing solution to train operators.
  2. Integrating multiple networking interfaces into a single device
    Having serial, I/O, and Ethernet links all natively available on a single device, considerably speeds up integration and development times. The convenience of such a variety of integrated interfaces makes it much easier for SIs to satisfy the needs of train operators.
  3. Integrating service and monitoring systems into a single device
    If all the functions can be integrated into a single device it not only simplifies system development and improves network reliability, it also reduces maintenance costs a great deal.
  4. Automatic carriage sequencing over 2-wire IP
    Older trains often built their PIS around industrial interfaces like CAN bus or RS-485 which were then daisy-chained into redundant ring topologies. Because networking stations on these systems required sequenced addressing to operate, these legacy systems all featured a technological solution that automatically reconfigured device addressing each time the consist was rearranged. An IP network running over 2-wire systems also requires an automated re-addressing solution, but this is not as easy to duplicate over 2-wire systems as it is over Ethernet. Thus a solution that already features automated address sequencing over a 2-wire network is a big shortcut for system development.
  5. Space limitations
    Due to the space limitations that old trains suffer from, all networking devices have to be as compact as possible. Low-profile systems that can be deployed without altering or modifying the carriage interior are very useful.
  6. Limited budget
    Operators do not want to spend a lot of money upgrading a legacy system if the cost to do so matches the price of a new carriage. Hence, systems must be both effective and affordable.

Moxa Solution Highlights for Refurbished Trains

  • Integrated control and management platform
    – Serves serial and Ethernet interfaces over a single device
    – Supports either C/C++ or IEC 61131-3 programming languages
    – Ready-to-run services (data logging, email alarms, Modbus, etc.)
  • Ethernet over a Daisy-Chained 2-Wire Relay-Bypass Network
    – Ethernet backbone over 2-wire copper cable
    – Reduces wiring and labor cost
    – Relay bypassing technology improves reliability
    – Ideal for mid-life trains built prior to the mobile Internet era
  • Automatic Carriage Sequencing (ACS)
    – Easy-to-use API
    – Reconfiguration does not require a system reboot
    – Sequences all devices in less than 3 seconds

  • – ioPACs connect sensors, the PA (Passenger Announcement) system, and the PEI (Passenger Emergency Intercom) system, and serial interfaces for passenger information LEDs over Ethernet
    – Network attached storage for onboard railway applications

Moxa’s Broad Selection of Passenger Information Solution Products

Learn More about Moxa Solutions for Passenger Information System (PIS)

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