Comfort and safety for rail travel

Modern rail travel is fast and luxurious. The use of lightweight materials in the construction of carriages has been instrumental in improving both speed and economy in high speed trains. In our energy aware society, rail travel is also seen as environmentally friendly compared to the personal use of cars. Large numbers travel by rail every single day and they must be able to do so in comfort and safety. Promat has developed innovative insulation solutions that help in each of these areas.
Promat and rail travel safety
With the increased use of aluminium and composites in construction, fire protection for railway carriages presents designers with a stability and integrity problem due to the vulnerability of these materials at the temperatures reached by a fire.

Even a cellulosic ("A" rated) fire reaches well over 900 °C in an hour. Aluminium is used extensively for the structural strength of railway carriages, particularly in the floor structure. Aluminium melts at around 660 °C but suffers a 25% reduction in strength at only 200 °C.

Composite materials are even more vulnerable to fire damage, both to direct flame and to the temperatures experienced in a fire. The heat distortion temperature (HDT) is often taken as the limiting surface temperature that the composite can safely be exposed to. It is measured by checking at elevated temperatures for deformation under a specified load. Promat has an extensive background in the passive fire protection of a range of materials including aluminium and composites. We also have the capability of "in house" fire testing to a number of internationally recognised temp/time fire scenarios.  

Promat and event recorders
Event recorders are becoming standard on high speed trains, rather like the "black box" recorders in aircraft. In the event of a crash they can provide detailed information covering the operation of the train in the minutes prior to the mishap.

Promat can protect event recorders against the possibility of damage through fire in the event of a serious accident.

Promat protecting the rail traveller's comfort
Modern diesel engines are being designed to run at higher temperatures which in turn means higher exhaust temperatures. When exhausts are routed within the structure of carriages to improve aerodynamics and aesthetics, a further design challenge is presented by the need to contain the heat and to limit the temperatures on outer surfaces.  

Promat offers the perfect solution for exhaust protection with Microtherm® ultra thin, flexible, insulation panels that occupy minimum space and add minimum weight. The insulation contains the heat of the exhaust and effectively prevents heat transfer into the passenger compartment.



The challenges in insulation design for rail applications
Size, weight, and performance are all critical in design for modern railway carriages. Any insulation used must meet the following design criteria:

  • Best performance – lowest thermal conductivity
  • High temperature capability
  • Non-combustible
  • Smallest volume – lightest weight
  • Not affected by thermal shock
  • Dimensionally stable at all temperatures. No shrinkage or other deterioration with time
  • Resistant to damage by vibration
  • Available in a wide range of specifications including water resistant
  • Capable of being shaped to close tolerances
  • Availability of factory pre-shaping, cladding, and partial assembly into other components
  • Cost effective solutions for high volume economies in production

Promat can design an "engineered solution" that will meet all these design challenges. Our product portfolio is based on the very best performing insulation products with the lowest thermal conductivity. A Promat system cannot be beat on performance.

Application solutions

Carriages – floors and fire barriers

The containment of a fire without damage to the structure of a carriage is achieved by means of a passive fire protection (PFP) system. The most effective system consists of a layer of high efficiency insulation attached to the surfaces that are likely to be exposed to direct flame in the event of a fire. 

Weight becomes important for speed and operating efficiency. Furthermore, minimising the thickness of materials ensures maximum space for passengers and train personnel, particularly with respect to height. A thin, lightweight, highly efficient insulation material ideally compliments the other modern construction materials in current use in rail applications.

Promat offers Microtherm® PFP systems that have been developed in partnership with the leading manufacturers of railway equipment around Europe and can now be found in a wide range of rail transport applications including metro, trams, regional railways, and also high speed trains.

To protect an aluminium carriage floor, a PFP system comprising Microtherm® flexible insulation panels is simply clipped to the C-slot fixation rails. This is used in combination with the upper floor materials and the aluminium floor extrusion.

A PFP system based on Microtherm® flexible panels is innovative, simple and fast to install. It is also extremely robust and will maintain a stable protection over many years of use.

Minimal thickness – maximum performance
By using a Promat system it is possible for the fire protection of bulkheads, structural walls, and sliding doors to be achieved with a minimal insulation thickness to meet standards such as EN45545 and ASTM E119. A typical system to protect the underside of an aluminium floor, based on 6mm thick Microtherm® panels, will limit the rise in temperature of the floor structure to no more than 70°C above the general ambient temperature after 30 mins exposure to fire.

Insulation can be supplied encapsulated, fully shaped, or covered and painted to a specified finish. Systems also include PROMAGLAF® fibre blanket, DALFRATEX® ceramic cloth, INTUMEX® intumescent fire penetration seals, and PROMASOUND® TL acoustic protection. Promat can also offer full contact protection systems for laminated and foam filled composite structures.
Insulation to diesel exhausts

Exhausts are increasingly routed inside the train structure for improved aerodynamics. Protection is necessary to guard against damage to the materials of construction, and to prevent transfer of heat from the exhaust into passenger areas. Again, Promat can provide the ultimate solution using a Microtherm® system. The ultra-thin, flexible, insulation panels occupy minimum space and add minimum weight. The insulation is unaffected by vibration or thermal shock. All components can be tailor made for fast, clean assembly. 

MICROTHERM® QUILTED panel provides the thinnest and lightest insulation systems for diesel exhausts.
Protection of event recorders

High speed trains carry event recorders to provide essential information in the rare event of a serious accident.

They provide details of key instrumentation readouts in the minutes just prior to a major problem. They must be robust enough to withstand high speed impacts and explosions and also a hydrocarbon fire.

Promat is the market leaders in the provision of insulation protection to event recorders.
Other applications

Other applications


Elsewhere, Microtherm® has been used for the insulation of air conditioning systems, for heat shields and for carbon particle filter insulation.

Selected Products