Silicone Foam Sealing: Enhancing Safety and Comfort in Rail and Transportation

Americans have traditionally been reluctant to embrace rail transportation but even prior to the pandemic trends indicated a change in behavior. In 2019, passengers traveled around 26.85 billion passenger kilometers on railways in North and South America. This constitutes less than one percent of the passenger kilometers traveled by rail worldwide that year. This still represents a rise of more than 5 billion kilometers as late as 2014.

All transportation was profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As restrictions were lifted, passenger rail has seen renewed interest. Commuter rail transportation is rising across the United States with the FTA recommending 11 major rail projects in 2024 and another 31 public transport projects funded across the US.

Some of this interest in mass transit may be due to renewed focus on sustainable energy and reducing carbon footprint. Rail is one of the most energy-efficient modes of transportation. Rail is energy diverse with considerable advances in electrification promising a cleaner alternative to aerospace and automotive travel methods.

As population density increases in cities, governments and private companies around the world are investing trillions of dollars in the future of rail travel. Globally, trends like flight shame, or “flygskatt,” saw a decline in air travel and a corresponding increase in rail in Sweden and Germany. In an effort to reduce transportation emissions, France banned short domestic flights that could be reached in less than 2 ½ hours via train. Countries throughout Europe and Asia are connected through high-speed rail with many more projects underway.

Rail travel has consistently evolved for more than 200 years. Steam engines and wrought iron heralded a revolution in the early 19th century. By the end of the century intercity rail and electrified third rail technology was adopted around the world. Diesel and diesel-electric replaced steam and remained essential to rail transport. Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and hydraulic projects are now emerging as a clean tech innovation for the 21st century.

Influencing Passenger Preference for Rail

Price drives the majority of travel decisions and cannot be overlooked. Low price air travel will always entice travelers but recent data from a number of European countries shows a strong preference for safety and reliability over speed.

When designing, engineering and manufacturing the future of rail transportation, OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers will consider these trends. Working with leaders in innovation and high-quality materials will help future-minded businesses meet the needs and desires of travelers.

The Role of Silicone Foams in Rail and Transportation

In the realm of rail and transportation, effective sealing solutions are crucial for maintaining passenger safety, comfort, and the longevity of vital components. Silicone foam has emerged as a key material for sealing and gasketing of windows, lighting and doors.

Window Seal

Window seals created with silicone foam provide a reliable barrier against moisture, dust, and noise infiltration. With silicone foam’s excellent weather resistance and low compression set, it is well-suited for the demanding conditions of rail and transportation applications. These seals help maintain a comfortable and controlled environment inside the vehicle, while also enhancing passenger safety and reducing the risk of damage or failure due to external factors.

Lighting Seal

Proper sealing is essential for lighting systems in rail systems. Silicone foam gaskets and seals are commonly used to create a secure and durable seal around lighting fixtures, such as headlights, taillights, and interior lighting.

These seals protect against moisture, dust, and other contaminants, ensuring the longevity and reliable performance of the lighting systems. With the superior weather resistance and resilience of silicone foam, the lighting seals maintain their effectiveness even in demanding environments, enhancing visibility, safety, and passenger comfort.

Working with Proven Suppliers

Polymer Science offers OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers a wide range of materials and products. Our catalog of silicone foams helps our partners quickly identify the ideal material for your project. When you need custom solutions, Polymer Science has a proven process to analyze, design and test silicone foams for your specific needs.

Whether enhancing the service life of components or optimizing the safety and comfort of rail travelers, Polymer Science is eager to consult with partners through the rail and transportation industry. Our sealing solutions contribute to the efficiency, reliability, and passenger satisfaction in rail and transportation applications.