Vapé Rail was established in 1978, prompted by the introduction of the TGV, France’s high-speed train. The company developed a rail fixing system which was specifically designed to withstand the pressures associated with high-speed movement. The anchoring mechanism combines a plastic composite material with metal components to optimize fixing strength and durability.
Under the leadership of Stéphane Brunet, who took over the reins as President four years ago, the product range has increased significantly. In addition to the rail fixing system, the company has also introduced a range of trackside products, for example manhole covers and water tanks.
The third product range, Connected, was developed in response to a number of rail accidents caused by loose screws. Vapé Rail developed a warning system whereby a loose screw triggers an alarm, which prompts immediate action by a maintenance team, thereby mitigating the risk of accidents.
An added advantage of this system is that it enables efficient and cost-effective maintenance planning. Instead of routinely scheduling the renewal of fixings, kilometer by kilometer, every 10 to 20 years, targeted maintenance can be carried out in those areas that are actually defective.
Another product within the Connected range is a digital safety helmet for use by maintenance personnel. The helmet has integrated lights and can also receive and transmit acoustic signals. An additional function currently in development is an integrated system which warns the wearer when he enters a high-voltage area.
Vapé Rail currently supplies the French railway SNCF, maintenance firms, rail installation companies and train builders such as Siemens. Since 2000, it has worked with customers in Maghreb, Korea, and Eastern Europe, who are involved in the surface and underground train and tram businesses.
“We have been a recognized market player for 35 years,” says Mr. Brunet. “Innovation is important to us, to bring new solutions which offer value to our customers. Our priorities for the future are to grow, build up our export business and also continue to develop new and innovative products, particularly within the Connected range.”