Trains, Planes and Automobiles, Why UPS Systems are Critical for Keeping the Transportation Sector Moving

Power Control
06 Apr 2022

Transportation is a vast sector encompassing aviation, rail, road, and even marine. It is one that is relied upon by so many for getting from one place to another whether it be commuting or leisure and many of us simply take it for granted that we can ‘hop on a bus’, ‘jump on the train’ or ‘nip out in the car’ that when a power failure disrupts the status quo, it can often lead to travel chaos. 

The most recent example of this was in London on the 29th of March 2022 when a fire at a substation in Poplar resulted in the service suspension of the London DLR (Docklands Light Railway) and delayed over 38,000 travellers. The same outage also caused problems for road users in the wider East London area causing “hectic” 1 scenes with “traffic lights out”1

But perhaps the most memorable disruption to happen to the rail infrastructure, caused by a blackout was Friday 9th August 2019 when passengers were shut out of some of the country’s busiest train stations during the Friday evening rush hour. London Euston, London St Pancras and Kings Cross, and Thameslink were among some of the train lines being affected as well as some northern rail lines, Newcastle airport, Ellesmere Port, and traffic light outages across many UK counties.2  

When a power failure occurs, key operations in the travel sector are likely to be affected. With complex electrical infrastructures, railway stations, road traffic control, airports and marine ports are incredibly vulnerable to power anomalies, interruptions, and outages. When a mains power failure occurs, key operations in the travel sector will likely be affected if a sufficient backup power infrastructure has not been implemented.

Identifying each application susceptible to failure will help ensure operational continuity. These include Air traffic control, railway signalling and road traffic lights, Digital information boards such as timetables and railway stations, gate information at airports and gantry signs on motorways, and Electric vehicle charging points.

Some of the less obvious applications are likely to also include access control including ticket barriers, CCTV and security systems, emergency lighting, disabled access and lifts, and fire suppression and smoke detectors within transportation hubs. All these applications are critical to the operation of the transport sector.  and all should be supported with a backup supply of power to avoid disruption.

Although less frequent, power failures are still occurring, and procurement managers need to remain committed to improving their backup power frameworks. This starts by establishing resilient power protection strategies and working with knowledgeable solution partners like Power Control Ltd.

Working with transportation hubs from all divisions of the transport sector to safeguard their facilities, Power Control understands the multifaceted needs of this sector. With complex electrical infrastructures, transportation infrastructures are incredibly vulnerable to power anomalies, interruptions, and outages. Identifying each application susceptible to failure will help ensure operational continuity.

Most transport hubs will already have some level of emergency power provision, which can vary from a single phase UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) unit, typically found supporting a standalone piece of equipment such as a computer or a CCTV camera, to multi-megawatt UPS systems that are used to backup entire comms rooms and signalling boxes. Reviewing what is in place and mapping out the complete network could result in more efficient solutions being adopted, which would, in turn, achieve both efficiency and financial savings.

Where UPS equipment is already on-site, it is important to be mindful of its condition and regular servicing must be part of routine maintenance plans. UPS systems are made up of four core components; UPS batteries, static switch, inverter and rectifier, which all degrade over time and will require replacement during the UPS lifecycle. Should any of these components fail, the UPS unit will fail also.

Power Control has been developing and implementing power protection strategies since 1994 and has relationships with transport hubs across the country that spans almost as long as its history. In addition to project management, the company provides comprehensive maintenance and servicing solutions for all sizes, makes and models of UPS and has a nationwide team of technical engineers available to carry out immediate onsite works. 

A Bestwick, Airfield Engineer at East Midlands Airport commented: 

"Not only has Power Control been instrumental in the initial scoping of our requirements but the team’s professionalism throughout the installation has been exceptional. They had extremely strict parameters to work within, which required expert coordination between site engineers and team project managers to ensure a seamless transfer, with limited disruption to the airport and passengers."

Recognised industry wide for its extensive technical experience and knowledge of UPS, Power Control is proud to be partnered with leading UPS manufacturers Legrand, Huawei, Borri Spa and CertaUPS. These partnerships allow the company to offer one of the largest and most sophisticated UPS portfolios in the industry, whilst also benefiting from direct manufacturer factory training with immediate technical backup.