Rolling Stock Fire Suppression

Rolling Stock Fire Suppression
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Stat-X® Fire Suppression

Rolling Stock Fire Suppression

Active Fire Suppression for Rolling Stock — Is There a Perfect Solution?

In Issue One 2023 of Railway-News, an article—of the same name—raised the following question: “When Will Rail Authorities Start Addressing Active Fire Suppression for Rolling Stock?” Therein, the need for rail safety organizations to include active fire suppression on rolling stock was emphasized. As tragic evidence of that need, the article highlighted the Kaprun Disaster in Austria that killed 155 people.

While fatal rail fire incidents are not commonplace, the Kaprun Disaster was not exactly an anomaly either. In 2002, a fire in a sleeping car in France killed twelve people while they slept. Incidents such as this and the Kaprun Disaster clearly indicate a need for active fire suppression. But what type of fire suppression systems should rail authorities consider? And is there a single type of
system that can be used for all of the fire risks on all types of rolling stock?

Before delving into possible solutions, it is first important to understand the types of fire risks that exist across the varied types of rolling stock traveling today on the world’s rail network. Those in the rail business understand that rolling stock is anything but universal.

Depending on where you are, you may find rolling stock that is powered by diesel-electric or purely electric. Also operating today are trains with motive power supplied by hydrogen fuel cells and those with large-scale battery energy storage systems (BESS). In addition to the variables in motive power, passenger or freight trains carry a wide variety of things that will burn along with the means to ignite them. Each of these carries with it unique risks and hazards that must be considered and managed.

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