Communications, both the wired sort and the spoken word, are at the heart of the rail industry. Signallers need to communicate with drivers, staff with passengers and designers with engineers. When any one of these falls down, the consequences can be costly.
Founded in Sweden in 1975, Westermo has been manufacturing industrial communications systems for over 40 years, providing critical infrastructure for numerous sectors. The company is now a global provider of railway communications networks, employing more than 200 people around the world – roughly a quarter of which work in the rail sector.
“Rail is a big part, and an important part, of what we do,” said Phil Mounter, Westermo sales manager. “We’re a growing business globally and we’re growing in the UK as well. We pride ourselves in not only delivering quality industrial networks fit for purpose in all industries that have critical communications infrastructure, but also second to none local technical support.”
The company, which has its UK headquarters in Southampton, has for a long time specialised in designing and supplying lineside communications infrastructure but is now increasingly developing On Train networks, as train operators and ROSCOs look to refurbish fleets with new CCTV, passenger information, driver-only operation, remote condition monitoring and wireless communications systems.
Just recently, Westermo won a landmark contract with Transport for London to work in partnership with them and other suppliers to deliver the Predict and Prevent RCM project on London Underground’s Jubilee line. A key element of the solution Westermo is supplying is the wireless communications between the carriages and Train-to-Ground Communications to forward the data from the train to the station’s wireless infrastructure.
At this year’s Infrarail exhibition, Westermo was demonstrating its IP train concept – something the company has been pioneering with Bombardier and other manufacturers which, in essence, uses a single Ethernet network to manage almost all of a train’s onboard systems.
For the past four years, Westermo has supported the Signalling & Telecommunications Person or Team of the Year category at the RailStaff Awards to recognise the kind of skilled, inventive engineers the company works with every day.
The 2015 award was won by the signalling test team at Old Dalby in Leicestershire, which is trialling the new Communications-based train control (CBTC) signalling system for London Underground’s Sub-Surface Railway (SSR). RailStaff was lucky enough to visit the site in March and travel on an S Stock train as it completed a test run through rural Leicestershire. It was a great example of a complicated project overcoming a challenging start through the application of innovative technology and a dedicated team.
Give something back
Although Westermo specialises in technical communications networks, the company recognises the value of communication in all its forms. After handing out last year’s award, Phil felt that the chance to recognise and reward the individuals and teams, as well as the companies they work for, was the main draw of the RailStaff Awards.
“We believe passionately in the industry that we’re in; in terms of the quality of its engineers and the products that the engineers produce,” said Phil. “We feel that we should give a little bit back.”