Fibre optics for on-board/track railway applications

13th January 2014
Posted By : Nat Bowers
Fibre optics for on-board/track railway applications

Extending the company's portfolio with railway fibre optics connectors, SOURIAU has announced the VGE1 ELIO and 838 ELIO. Based on its standard railway product ranges VGE1 and 838 series, the railway fibre optics connectors utilise ELIO contact technology, which has been in operation worldwide on aircrafts for more than 10 years.

Enabling the use of fibre optics for on-board or track railway applications, SOURIAU claim that the VGE1 ELIO and 838 ELIO are the only optical connectors on the market to be approved by the French national railway operator, SNCF, for on-board applications. The VGE1 ELIO bayonet-lock connector is available in three different layouts and shell sizes, four, eight and twelve ELIO contacts. They are robust enough to be fitted on train roofs, under train bodies or just about anywhere else on the outside of trains, as well as for track applications. A two-contact version will be released later. Suitable for track applications, the 838 ELIO connector features a screw lock and an 8-contact layout. Designed specifically for inter-vehicle connections, a 24-contact version will be released later.

Combining simplicity of use and a high reliability level, ELIO is an innovative optical contact which is very easy to implement, to terminate (unclear) and to clean. Offering reliable optical performances in extreme environments, it is compatible with single mode, multimode, and plastic fibre. When combined with highly ruggedized and railway qualified connectors, ELIO can handle the most stringent environmental and mechanical conditions, like damped heat, extreme temperatures, vibration at low frequency as well as shocks, hundreds of mating cycles, and exposure to typical railway fluids and lubricants. The technology meets railway standards for a reliable and easy-to-use connectivity solution and gives confidence to operators as well as train and equipment manufacturers.

In the railway industry, safety and customer service are critically important. Ever increasing data transfer rates are required for fast-response train control systems, accurate power monitoring and new entertainment applications like passenger real-time information, broadband web access, or high definition video-monitoring. Already field-proven in harsh applications like aeronautics, oil & gas production or military vehicles, fibre optic technology meets these new needs. As they are not affected by electro-magnetic interferences, fibre optic cables have been utilised in railway signaling along tracks for long distance transmission as well for high data rate needs. With Ethernet as the standard for on-board communication, rolling stocks tends to embed more and more fibre optic connectivity, even in the harshest locations, such as inter-vehicle. Weight saving is also a big concern for train manufacturers; and the use of fibre optic cables is a definite advantage in this respect.

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