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Catenary Interface Monitoring Coherent sensing technology for electrical railway infrastructure and rolling stock for interoperable cross boundary transportation

Final Report Summary - CATIEMON (Catenary Interface Monitoring Coherent sensing technology for electrical railway infrastructure and rolling stock for interoperable cross boundary transportation)

The European Union is in the unique position to already possess a tight network of railways. The power that lies in this system is just not yet unleashed to its full extend. The 'Catenary Interface Monitoring' (Catiemon) touches exactly this issue and enables the railway system to work as a whole. The outcome of this process will be more than the sum of the combined networks and is likely to form a real innovation in travelling and transportation.

The vision of the Catiemon project is to define different steps to be crossed over in order to evolve from the current rail system/organisation ('multiple national rail networks') toward the new targeted one ('high quality rail network'). The partners keep that vision already during the research and development phase in mind to be able to meet the target of Catiemon in the implementation phase of the project. Therefore it's important to make out already at this early stage of the project the key performance indicators and to create synthetic figures (mainly linked to regulation and standards), to identify the lack of standards (common harmonised qualification criteria and inspection procedures) and to participate and be directly involved in standard works.

In laboratory tests the behaviour of the carbon-strips with the fibre optic sensors directly glued to them was examined. It was found that there will be a possibility to distinguish between vertical (from top) and horizontal (frontal) hits. As the sensors are located in small grooves that were milled into the carbon they are as close to the interface between contact-wire and carbon-strip as possible. The deformation that horizontal (frontal) hits cause to the current-strip can be clearly detected.

The main target of the project is to gather experience with the application of Catiemon in a real life environment including the integrated approach that is necessary for this. The application and testing of Catiemon technologies under real life conditions will deliver the full information that enables a functioning of the European railway system as a whole. The experience with the system will lead to new insights and ideas that can be inspired only by actually acting in that field.

Catiemon can be adapted highly flexible to the needs of the different users in regard to the resolution-level of the measurements. This applies to both systems, the inspection-gate and the fibre-optics equipped carbon-strip of the pantograph. Through this nearly open scalability in its measurement-capacity the varying demands of the infrastructure-managers and of the rolling-stock-operators can be met individually.

Several innovative electromagnetic immune optical fibre Bragg grating (FBG) sensors and two interrogators suited to railway applications have been developed and intensively tested during the Catiemon European research project. In addition to in-lab design and tests, these sensing equipments have been installed for several field tests on commercial lines dispatched over an eighteen months long period. FBG sensors, able to sustain high voltage at railway infrastructures as well as outdoor conditions, and efficient installation procedures have been developed and validated. Data acquired during the course of the project have shown that FBG-based sensing is a promising approach in order to characterise the pantograph/catenary interactions. This technology provides new diagnosis tools to the end-users in order to improve railway infrastructures' management procedures, to increase safety and thus availability. It may now benefit to all railway stakeholders in order to face the increasing demand for railway transportation, in particular in Europe.

The project website can be found under