Freight at the End of the Tunnel

Freight at the End of the Tunnel
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Freight at the End of the Tunnel

This article first appeared in the Railway-News magazine, Issue 4 2022 Data & Monitoring edition.

The United States freight railroads have received approximately $760 billion on capital expenditure and maintenance expenses from 1980 to 2021.

These expenses were related to locomotives, freight cars, tracks, bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure and equipment, which are all essential to efficient rail mobility. In the most congested urban areas, underground railways are a feasible alternative mode of transportation, creating a smooth and faster passage for carrying freight and passengers to many desirable locations, ensuring cargo and goods are delivered on time. Underground tunnelling is the critical enabler behind delivering underground passages for these railways.

Underground tunnelling projects face a myriad of challenges due to the robust and harsh environments that make it difficult to deploy and operate network systems within them. Complex tunnel layouts inherently lead to obstructions that limit how far wireless signals can travel. As a result, traditional single radio wireless systems cannot function optimally, and fibre is often used to achieve reliable connectivity. These systems are high-cost and difficult to change as tunnel construction progresses. What’s needed is a flexible wireless network purpose-built to overcome range and reliability challenges underground with rapid, dynamic and cost-effective deployment.

Creating the Foundations of Rail

A growing population, the desire for sustainable transportation and infrastructure systems, and the need to minimise surface disturbance have increased tunnelling and underground construction in urban areas. Tunnels are effective for rail operations as they protect the railway tracks within them from weather effects, such as snow and rain, as well as providing a faster path to destinations. Thus, tunnels reduce the overall maintenance cost of the rail system.

Whether building a new tunnel or renovating an existing underground structure on land or underwater, tunnel construction sites are inherently complex environments. Tunnelling and construction projects for transportation require real-time monitoring of underground conditions to ensure safe and efficient operations.

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