A new dawn for urban rail transport Key players in the urban rail industry have jointly outlined and tested the best technologies that promise to make city trains much more efficient. Climate Change and Environment © Thinkstock Urban rail transport is considered an energy-efficient means of transport that encourages economic competitiveness in the areas it passes through, yet efforts are still needed to streamline its systems. The EU-funded project 'Modular urban guided rail systems' (Modurban) addressed all key rail industry suppliers for onboard systems, wayside systems, communication systems, energy-saving systems and passenger/access systems. Different well-known European companies in the field joined rail operators to address important issues such as interoperability for urban systems, particularly technical compatibility between existing lines and network extensions. The project also addressed intelligent onboard systems to facilitate train movement and achievement of cost reductions through best practices. Modurban produced functional requirement specifications (FRS) that cover command, control and train management systems related to urban rail applications, addressing networks ranging from manually driven trains to fully driverless operation. In more specific terms, the FRS covers grades of automation, interoperability, principles for degraded operation, system performance and safety issues. This manual represents a cutting-edge comprehensive set of requirements articulated by major players in the field. An important project achievement has also been the development of a joint fault-tolerant data communication system which is transparent to the train control system. Another has been the defining of the 'intelligent driving' concept which compensates for variations in train parameters over time, such as deviation of braking, traction and reaction times. In addition, Modurban defined and compared passenger information systems in the EU, outlining regulations in Member States with respect to video surveillance. Lastly, the project team proposed and validated energy saving models such as developing a prototype lightweight interior grab rail. Many of these technologies and advances were tested in Madrid in 2008, marking an important milestone in the development of next-generation urban transport.