Lightsticks for the railways

Cyalume Technologies offers a host of innovating solutions, enabling it to offer high-quality product meeting the safety requirements of railway specialists.

Cyalume is continuing its work with European railway companies in order to offer them products with a multiple of applications. Cyalume can, quite justifiably, claim to be renowned reference products with the capability of supporting the safety policies of the entire railway industry.

One of the main safety related concerns of rail transport companies is to reduce the risks encountered in emergencies and during work on railroad lines.

Cyalume has been working closely for years with railway stakeholders in France and in the UK, implementing safety and emergency protocols. These protocols make it possible to reduce the risks of slips, trips and falls both among the workers in charge of track maintenance but also of passengers who must be kept safe in the event of extended train stoppage or passenger transfer. Cyalume has developed specific product for staff identification, hazard marking, trackside equipment and railway cars and stations.

Lightsticks in the trains for passenger safety

Cyalume has developed the LightStation, an evacuation solution which improves the existing S.E.E. System boxes widely used on British train cars and equipment.

In a single product the LightStation offers:

  • Instant illumination of the train/car and of the exit points,
  • an independent evacuation or emergency light for each passenger,
  • good visibility of the evacuees awaiting the rescue teams for transfer operations.

Easy to locate in the dark with its photoluminescent label the LightStation gives personnel and passengers the reassurance of comfort and provides them with reliable lighting in an emergency.

Made of fire and explosion resisting metal, the LightStation can be installed on any type of train. Models 4, 10 or 20 have 25cm (10 inch) lightsticks. When the box is opened, all the lightsticks are activated (only 1 in model 20), giving 360° radiation so as to be able “to see and be seen by others”.


These devices mean that railroad companies can minimize risks in emergencies.

Many passenger coaches in Great Britain are provided with this type of box to ensure safety in night-time emergencies or evacuation in a tunnel.

This safety measure will soon be adopted by the other major players in the railway sector, like SNCF in France with which tests have already been performed, the SNCF, Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français, is working intensely on this type of issue with specialists from their HSE (Hygiene, Safety, Environment) teams and with the firefighters. A full scale test was carried out during the night a few years ago involving a high-speed train on fire causing a power cut and requiring passenger evacuation. Cyalume products were used for the individual identification of staff, for marking the routes and were tested to calm down and reassure the passengers and avoid any panic effects. They were also used for medical triage.

Passenger safety is a major concern for every railway company, achieved by means of Cyalume Technologies.

Lighting on night-time railway worksites for infrastructure maintenance

Improving employee safety and productivity is one of the main goals of Network Rail and the organization in charge of the safety of people working on the British Rail infrastructure. Network Rail constantly requires its subcontractors dealing with maintenance to meet these safety goals.

This puts safety at the heart of the concerns of the subcontractors, encouraged by the Office for Rail Regulation (ORR), the British Rail Health and Safety authority.

Most of the maintenance work on the infrastructures takes place at night to minimize traffic disturbances.

In this context, Cyalume Technologies has worked in close cooperation with Network Rail HSEA experts to select and validate a full range of Cyalume products to be used along the tracks.

The full range of SnapLight lightsticks and LightShape circular markers proposed by Cyalume can be used in different cases:

  • Marking out of maintenance areas: identifying the contact line limits and the site ownership zones, identifying service points, marking the boundaries between green and red zones.
  • Identification of equipment and dangers: lighted marking of drainage structures, gutters and pits, lighted marking of cables and ground connections, lighted marking of axle counters and weight signals.
  • Identification of persons: lighted marking of responders, MAD coaches, engineering supervisors and machines and crane operators.

The use of lightsticks on British Rail equipment has benefited from extremely positive feedback, for instance a reduction in the number of accidents (electrocution, fewer slips and slides, trips and falls on the work sites), improved staff working conditions and productivity.

Better safety is attained every day thanks to Cyalume products.

Today, these lightsticks come with a 12-hour light guarantee providing improved safety for workers and facilitating cable location..

Previously, the presence of these cables was indicated solely by the use of sprayed paint which is not visible at night. What is more, the Cyalume lightsticks can also be used as an alternative to traditional rail lighting stations, generally powered by generators.

With the Cyalume SnapLight products, noise and fumes from generators are a thing of the past. This considerably reduces the carbon dioxide emissions. Reducing the generator use also leads to major savings in diesel fuel.

Working together like this has improved the safety of the railway maintenance teams and generated major savings.

Avoiding slips and falls in the dark.

Across the channel, HSE specialists from SNCF have been working with Cyalume to standardize the use of chemiluminescent products on rail maintenance sites to improve the safety of night work teams.

Tests organized with an internal working group from SNCF met with success. The efficiency of Cyalume products in the railway world was quickly demonstrated. They are easy to use with no health or environmental risks and they help improve the working conditions of the maintenance teams.

To follow up these tests, protocols concerning the use of Cyalume products have been adopted by the French railway infrastructure network night maintenance teams. The SnapLight 15 cm orange stick, burning for 12 hours, and the green 8 hour SOS light are now used on SNCF maintenance sites.

For the safe lighting of access tracks to the maintenance sites, and to avoid slipping, tripping and falls, the orange SnapLight 15cm snaplights can be used easily to indicate an obstacle, to light the way, even in dense vegetation.

The green 8-hour SOS indicating devices are also used in conjunction with 200 mobile defibrillators on the maintenance sites. They can be activated in night emergencies to signal the need for immediate evacuation.

Henceforward, all these applications have been logged and are used on the infrastructure maintenance work sites across France, offering the following advantages:

  • Accidents such as slipping, tripping and falling have decreased enormously. Cyalume light sticks are light and easy-to-carry and user-friendly products, reducing environmental impact (respectful of the environment, no emission of noise, and no use of batteries).
  • The 12 hour glow life covers the working hours of a night maintenance team
  • They also offer a better response to the safety and regulation requirements of everybody working on the infrastructure network.

SnapLight and Visipad are two identification products used on rail sites at night.

  • Identification of contact line poles: the 40 cm blue lightsticks that glow for 8 hours can be used for the “Contact Line” application.Site supervision to avoid electrical risks requires locking out the installation of LRC (Line Rail Connections) to ensure electric equipotential conditions.Until now, every connection was identified by a blue triangular flag, materializing the limits of the site not to be crossed. The 8 hour 40cm blue lightsticks are better for identifying these zones at night. When the site is complete, there is less of a risk of forgetting a contact wire pole because the pole is identified by a blue lightstick.
  • Individual identification: the yellow self-adhesive pad Visipad is used for identifying HSE agents on site.

All the Cyalume products provide better marking, lighting and signaling during maintenance work at night, and contribute to reducing the accident factor on these rail infrastructure maintenance sites.

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