Securing the Rails: Reliable Data Storage for Railway Applications

Securing the Rails: Reliable Data Storage for Railway Applications

Securing the Rails: Reliable Data Storage for Railway Applications

Reliable data storage is always a top priority. But when it comes to railway applications, the stakes are extra high. Railway infrastructure poses unique challenges for systems designers. For one, the environment is extremely complex—electrically, mechanically, and thermally. Moreover, most railway applications are mission-critical, and any failures can gravely affect passengers, cargo, and the greater supply chain.

Without question, railway infrastructure requires data storage that is reliable, maintainable, and predictable.

What does data storage look like for the rails?

Only ultra-rugged, power-fail-safe solutions that offer the highest data-retention can meet the intense demands of railway infrastructure. In other words, data storage for railway applications must offer:

  • Certifiability storage
  • Long-term supply
  • Lifetime monitoring
  • Security
  • Certifiable storage

Certifiable storage

Certifiable storage is a chief requirement for railway infrastructure. It gives suppliers and manufacturers the power to ensure that their equipment is approved by government authorities and is licensed, safe, and secure for all railway undertakings.

Long-term supply

Most systems in railway infrastructure are in use for 10+ years. Accordingly, railway companies need long-term access to essential components via appropriate after-sales service in order to keep up with maintenance and ensure reliability throughout the system's lifetime.

Lifetime monitoring

Similarly, to design storage for longevity, teams need systems with SMART technology. Flash controllers with SMART technology provide lifetime monitoring of the NAND flash within the storage device, delivering information about the NAND flash’s health and endurance so teams can survey operations and efficiently upgrade storage devices as needed before their eventual expiration.


Of course, railway infrastructure must be protected from outsider threats. This is crucial for safeguarding passengers, goods, and the greater supply chain. Only robust, reliable data storage ensures companies can shield mission-critical data to prevent unauthorized access and data manipulation.

A threat on the rails threatens the entire supply chain
In railway infrastructure, even small faults in security have dire consequences. Certainly, passenger safety is paramount. Sensitive and/or hazardous cargo further intensify the risks. And given its key role in the supply chain, security threats in railway infrastructure can catalyze havoc across diverse industries.

Ensuring reliable data storage in railway applications, however, is challenging as the railway environment is ripe with complex, diverse equipment. For example, standard railway equipment includes operating panels, motor controls, event data recorders (EDRs), etc., all of which require storage for both the operational system and operational data.

EDRs are among the most important railway equipment, as they are responsible for continuously recording data and securely storing it—even in the event of a power failure. A valuable source for system monitoring, EDRs help facilitate investigations and reduce maintenance and downtime, boosting overall efficiency. Notably, EDRs are a mission-critical application and, thus, must guarantee rugged, robust, and reliable computing and storage.

Finding the right flash controller to secure the rails

Flash memory is ideally suited to meet the security demands of mission-critical railway applications. However, a NAND flash-based storage system’s ability to ensure reliable data storage is only as good as the flash controller that’s used, as it’s the flash controller that manages and optimizes the lifetime of the inherently unreliable NAND flash.

Thus, the key to successful storage system design for railway infrastructure is picking the right controller. But knowing how to do so can be difficult.

Controllers and their accompanying firmware can be optimized for cost, performance, and reliability. So when choosing a storage device or designing a storage system, companies must know what flash controller is implemented, its feature set, and how it’s been optimized to best support the selected NAND flash. For railway companies, it’s particularly important to consider if the flash controller can provide advanced protection against unexpected power losses—a vital feature for EDRs and other mission-critical railway applications.

The X1 NAND flash controller from Hyperstone is uniquely designed to fully satisfy the intense industrial requirements of the rail. Secure, reliable, and low-power, the X1 is a turnkey solution for railway applications, offering advanced security, encryption features, and health monitoring tools, as well as custom firmware extensions and feature development through firmware API.

Contact us to learn more about the X1 and get help finding the right flash controller for railway applications.