VESDA for Train and Rail Vehicle Applications


Trains and rail vehicles are forms of transport that run along a railroad track to transport cargo or passengers. Trains are used all over the world and carry millions of passengers and tonnes of valuable cargo every day. Passenger trains often have a variety of different carriages including passenger compartments, coaches, sleeping cars and dining cars.

Like all vehicles, there are a number of fire risks and hazards associated with rail travel. The consequence of a fire on or near a rail vehicle can be devastating with the potential loss of life, damage to equipment and disruption to important infrastructure. Therefore, employing a suitable and reliable fire detection solution is essential.

What are the Risks?

There are plenty of fire risks to consider in this type of application:

  • Soft Furnishings
    Most passenger carriages are fitted with soft furnishings such as seats, beds and curtains. These items can fuel a fire, causing it to spread rapidly.
  • Dirt and Grease
    Build up of dirt and grease in the mechanics and around the external areas of a train carriage can also cause a fire to spread rapidly.
  • Mechanical Faults
    Mechanical faults or overheating can often result in a fire which can spread very quickly throughout the carriages of a train.
  • Smoking
    Although smoking is not permitted on most trains, passengers often ignore this and continue to smoke in quiet areas such as toilets. If cigarettes are not properly extinguished they can start a fire in the public areas of a train.

What are the Challenges?

With rail applications, there are some unique challenges that can affect smoke detection and stop it from operating reliably:

Dust, dirt and exhaust fumes can contaminate traditional detection types resulting in unreliable detection and nuisance alarms.
Air conditioning can cause unpredictable airflow and dilution of smoke making it difficult to detect a potential fire. Train motion can also affect airflow and cause smoke dilution.
Trains are constantly in use and are typically in operation for around 30 years. Therefore, the fire detection equipment installed must be easy to maintain.

The Solution

A typical passenger train can carry up to 2,000 passengers and many more will be present in and around platforms and station areas. Therefore, an early warning of a fire is essential in the preservation of life.

There are many challenges in rail vehicle environments that call for specialist detection equipment that can detect developing fires in enclosed, concealed and dusty spaces, as well as in open areas with unpredictable airflow, and be impervious to smoke dilution and contaminants in the air. This makes them suited to harsh environments or areas where dust, grease and/or dirt is present.

Historically, it has been considered impractical and difficult to provide reliable smoke detection for rail applications with traditional point-type detectors unable to cope with the high-airflow and contaminants that are present.

However, aspirating smoke detection fits the bill perfectly for this type of application and can provide fast and reliable detection that overcomes the challenges that are faced.


VESDA has long been recognised as the best aspirating smoke detection on the market at providing the earliest possible warning of fire.

VESDA uses powerful aspirators to draw samples of air from the protected area into the equipment detection chamber. This enables the detector to detect even the smallest amount of smoke, overcoming the issues presented with unpredictable or circulating airflows and diluted smoke.

Before entering the chamber, contaminants are filtered from the air. This, combined with VESDA’s clean air barrier technology, reduces the risk of false alarms and prolongs the life of the detector.

VESDA detectors can detect both small incipient smouldering fires and large flaming fires. Multiple configurable alarm thresholds can be defined to engage staged responses as a fire escalates.

Sampling pipes can be installed in the ceiling, underfloor voids, cable ducts and across return air intakes, as well as in electrical cabinets for targeted equipment detection. Air can also be sampled from within the HVAC system to provide the fastest possible detection of smoke from within the railcar.

Detectors themselves can be installed away from the protected area in locations that are easily accessible for maintenance, testing and repair and can be integrated with Train Management Systems (TMS) to enable a faster and more accurate response to fire threats.

For more information about VESDA aspirating smoke detection, or to discuss any of the other products that Eurofyre have to offer, please feel free to get in touch either by phone on +44 (0) 1329 835 024, by email to [email protected] or via the online enquiry form situated on our contact page.

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