Protect rail cables from the rat pack

Indian Railway provides the most important mode of public transport in India. This is the most commonly used and cost effective long distance transport system of the country.

Rat attacks are causing chaos in the railways, with hundreds of trains breaking down as the rodents gnaw through vital cables. Throughout the years, there have been many stories in the media and on television about Rats causing chaos on railway lines. Back in 2010, millions of pounds had to be spent on the repair and replacement of 20,000 miles of rail track, across the UK, solely due to Rats gnawing and damaging cables.

Of course, with damage to this cabling comes serious implications to trains and their passengers; severe delays, breakdowns and, in some tragic cases, even crashes.

July 2014 saw a collision in South Western France between a high-speed TGV and Regional train leaving 40 passengers badly injured, all because of a signal malfunction created by Rat activity.

But why is cabling so important? Rail cabling holds vital data within it and is responsible for controlling the signaling infrastructure of its railways. Trains simply cannot drive safely on their tracks; electrical short circuits, incorrect signals, miscommunications and/or fires could easily occur. Railways couldn’t function. Railway cables are responsible for signalling when the train is coming, for instance, and they also ensure the constant electrical connections that allow them to run in the first place, from cables buried underground to cables that hang in the air. It’s important that cables are manufactured to the highest of standards, so that they not only help prevent future problems, but they also work to perfection every single time.

Armoured cables are great in all sorts of situations, because of their high insulation capabilities and their sturdiness. If these cables, or others like it, are not properly insulated, it’s possible that short circuits happen. This only emphasizes how vital it is to only use cables that meet the required standards and are produced with superior quality to ensure safety standards at all times.

Therefore, it’s equally as vital to the safe, smooth running of trains on the track that this cabling is adequately protected against potential damage from a ‘Rat Attack’!

In conjunction, to adequately protect against this potentially devastating issue, we have to understand exactly why rats gnaw through and damage the cabling in the first place. There seem to be several reasons for these actions:

Firstly, Rats have open-rooted incisors and molars – meaning that their teeth never stop growing and as a result, they have to incessantly gnaw on hard materials to keep their teeth ground down.

Secondly, Wild Rats are natural foragers and will use anything they can find – including electrical cabling! – as nesting material.

Thirdly, and most commonly, Wild Rats are territorial creatures who use urine as a way to mark territory. If and when they smell the urine of another Rat on their marked territory, they gnaw the affected material away; removing the offending Rat’s scent.

As stated, it is the third point – the marking of territory – that is the main reason why Rats damage and gnaw this all-important cabling.

 Consider the following news articles:

 Thousands stranded in Hong Kong MTR railway service disruption

18, May 2017, South China Morning post

A severe service disruption on Thursday along Hong Kong’s key commuter railway line to the Shenzhen border left thousands of passengers stranded and scrambling for alternative transport during the evening rush hour.

Critics urged the MTR Corporation to review its inspection procedures, suggesting that it was outdated and technical staff might have overlooked the wear and tear of overhead cables by simply relying on naked-eye monitoring.

“It’s very rare that an overhead cable suddenly snapped. It showed that there is something wrong with the MTR’s inspection mechanism. It needs to review the system or consider using rigid overhead conductors to replace cables,” pro-establishment lawmaker and rail expert Michael Tien Puk-sun said.

The breakdown first brought a train to a sudden halt 400 meters from Mong Kok East station, forcing some 110 passengers to get off and walk along the tracks to the nearest platform.

Rodents on prowl, rattled passengers dread train journeys

18, March 2015, The Indian Express

There is an urban myth in the UK that you are never more than six feet away from a rat. What isn’t a myth, though, is the disruption that rats and other vermin can cause to the rail industry by chewing through cables.

In April, rats caused a fire on the Melbourne Metro that disrupted services for days, while in July, a high-speed TGV was struck from behind by a regional train in southwest France because of a vermin attack.

An SNCF investigation found the regional train had passed a signal wrongly set on green because of a malfunction caused by rodents gnawing at trackside signal cables.

The accident at Pau prompted the French national railway to carry out an urgent check on 10,000 signals to prevent what it says was an incident that was “exceptional and unprecedented”.

 Rats likely cause of fire that sparked train delays across Melbourne

13, April 2015, Indian Express

Rail workers said today the fire near Richmond railway station was probably caused by rats chewing through 12-year-old heavy-duty cabling covers and exposing high-voltage wires.

That fire is now likely to badly delay Melbourne’s train travelers. There have also been significant delays on the Williamstown and Werribee lines, as knock-on effects on Metro’s badly delayed trains hit commuters in Melbourne’s west too. Metro repair staff worked through a rainy Tuesday night in a bid to replace the burnt-out cables, which supplied power to the network’s signaling system in that area.C-Tech Corporation can offer a solution to this problem. Our products Rodrepel is a non-toxic, non-hazardous rodent aversive. It is available in the form of masterbatches which can be directly incorporated into the polymer matrix during processing of wires and cables. This would result in the final cable or wire being rodent repellent. This would be an efficient way of deterring the rodents from chewing the cables and wires and thus negate the possibility of a short circuit.

Rodrepel is also available in lacquer form and can be applied directly on the outside as well as inside of the railway coaches.