David Woodcock, Business Unit Manager – Rail at DW Windsor looks at how the correct lighting technology and strategy can make a significant contribution to reducing the energy usage of stations, while still meeting all the functional and safety requirement

With the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and improved sustainability now a priority in order to minimise the impact of climate change, lowering operational energy usage is essential. The UK rail sector in particular is aiming to be a global leader. In fact, Network Rail was the first rail organisation in the world to set what it described as ‘ambitious science-based targets to cut carbon emissions and help limit global warming to 1.5∞C’. In its ‘Environmental Sustainability Strategy 2020-2050’ Network Rail details how it aims to achieve a ‘Low-Emission Railway’, including reaching net zero by 2050. The rail sector is also one of the largest single consumers of electricity in Britain. Therefore, reducing energy consumption is a necessity and the lighting in and around stations is an area where immediate and significant savings can be made.

Consider energy efficient lighting
A simple step that can make a meaningful difference is upgrading the existing lighting to highly energy efficient LED products. There are LED lighting solutions available for all areas including the car park, platforms, stairs, walkways and bridges as well as specially engineered products for trackside applications.

The high degree of output control that LEDs offer as well as advances in optical distribution means that leading manufacturers will be able to adapt the lighting to suit the existing infrastructure to minimise the work required.

Furthermore, the longevity of modern LED luminaires makes them a more sustainable option. For example, exterior lighting solutions typically have a rated lifetime of over 100,000 hours – the equivalent to over 20 years of operational use.

Minimising wasted energy
Another simple step that can be taken to reduce energy usage is ensuring that light is directed where it is needed, with minimal spill, to ensure energy is being used effectively. Careful consideration of the placement of luminaires is essential but extensive research and development into the optics for luminaires allows precise control over the distribution of light and therefore which areas are illuminated. This not only prevents energy waste but also eliminates light trespass into nearby homes and buildings as well as creating areas of darkness for wildlife.

The role of lighting controls
The energy reductions achieved through the use of LEDs can be enhanced further with the use of lighting controls. Integrated sensors and smart dimming profiles can be used to minimise the wasted energy during off-peak times. This is especially valuable for stations that see few passengers later in the evening or in the early morning, such as those in more rural areas.

In particular, station car parks are an area where innovative lighting can help to reduce energy usage. However, any solution must balance energy saving with ensuring the physical and perceived safety of passengers. Using straightforward controls to automatically dim the lighting after a certain time of night is a simple option.

Ensuring that all areas of the car park are illuminated, and a uniform level of light is achieved means visibility and safety can be maintained despite the reduced light levels. An example of where this approach has been implemented is Tiverton Parkway railway station, which is on the Bristol to Exeter Line in Devon and located close to the M5 motorway. The extended 429-space car park required an upgraded lighting solution to provide an improved passenger experience, while also minimising energy usage. DW Windsor’s Network Rail approved column-mounted Kirium luminaires were installed in twin and triple arm arrangements and set to dim by 20 per cent at night. The placement of the luminaires and distribution of the light means the scheme delivers a good uniformity of 0.4 from the station building to the furthest corners of the car park. The replacement lighting also uses 50 per cent less energy than the previous system with an improved light distribution.(1)

Energy savings can also be made in the lighting of the station platforms, but this requires a different approach. The focus when lighting platforms is to create uniform levels of high quality illumination along the length of the platform, so that all objects and surfaces are clearly visible. Care must be taken when designing luminaire spacing and light distribution to ensure there are no areas of shadow that can impact visibility and that signage and platform edges are clearly illuminated. Therefore, lighting levels can only be reduced when there are no passengers or staff present.

For example, at Crediton Station in Devon, a relatively small and rural station to the north of Exeter, a simple but effective approach has been implemented. During a recent refurbishment, our column mounted LED luminaires with passive infrared (PIR) sensors were installed along the platform. The sensors are used to dim all the lighting down to 20 per cent output when no motion is detected during certain times of the night. If movement is detected the lighting automatically returns to normal levels. This creates a consistent but lowered level of light, which complies with the relevant standards, but delivers excellent long term energy savings. The 20 per cent output is also sufficient to ensure the station appears open and welcoming to passengers, while also discouraging any potential anti-social behaviour.

Advanced controls and monitoring
Highly scalable Central Management Systems (CMS) combined with Internet of Things (IoT) enabled luminaires can provide remote access and dynamic lighting control across multiple sites. It also provides the option for sophisticated monitoring as well as full data for analysis and reporting, which is an important part of understanding where further energy savings can be made.

Sustainability is now a key priority for the rail sector with energy usage a core part of reducing the environmental impact. A considered approach to lighting design, using the latest innovations in LED luminaire technology and control systems, can help operators to make significant and immediate energy savings.

1 Case study reference: https://www.dwwindsor.com/projects/improved-lighting-and-significant-energy-savings-for-tiverton-parkway-railway-station/

To find out more about DW Windsor and its range of high performance LED lighting solutions visit www.dwwindsor.com