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A railway automatic track warning system based on distributed personal mobile terminals

Periodic Report Summary - ALARP (A railway automatic track warning system based on distributed personal mobile terminals)

Project context and objectives:

The objective of the ALARP project is to study, design and develop an innovative more efficient automatic track warning system (ATWS) to improve the safety of railway trackside workers.

ALARP ATWS will be able to selectively inform the trackside workers about:

approaching trains on the track,

1. maintenance events on power lines and/or safety equipment in the concerned tracks that ay put at risk workers' safety (e.g. being hit by a train or by an electric shock)
3. emergencies on tracks and tunnels nearby the workers (e.g. fires in a tunnel, toxic smoke, etc.)
4. escape routes in case of emergencies
5. keep track of the status and localisation of the workers (and especially those at risk, not responding) and
6. of the operating conditions of devices.

The proposed ALARP concept will be based on the following main components:

1. the track-side train presence alert device (TPAD), able to sense an approaching train on the interested track without interfering with the signalling system
2. a set of distributed, low-cost, wearable, context-aware, robust, trustable and highly reliable, wireless mobile terminals (MTs) to inform the workers about possible approaching trains and/or other events that could put at risk their safety.

The proposed TPAD will have the following characteristics:

1. be able to detect a train approaching the 'red zone' without interfering at all with existing signalling systems (and therefore able to sense the approaching train also in case of low density traffic lines without signalling systems)
2. be based on a multi-spectral camera to detect approaching trains in all lighting and weather conditions
3. be low-cost, self-powered and portable and easily movable in different places of work
4. be equipped with an anti-theft system.

The proposed MT will have the following main characteristics:

1. be able to generate alarm perceivable in harsh conditions (e.g. high noise, low light, etc.)
2. be of small size to be wearable without interfering with the worker's job (e.g. embedded in the helmet), with ergonomic design and interface easy for different users
3. be able to communicate and interact through wireless connections with other MTs and the track-side train presence alert devices together with mechanisms to check validity and trust-levels for this ad-hoc communication
4. be able to localise itself on the railway fusing information from geographic positioning systems (GPS) European geostationary navigation overaly service (EGNOSS) and/or the wireless network(s) and/or inertial measurement units (IMUs) and the railway map
5. be able to eavesdrop on wireless signalling communication links (e.g. ERTMS) to obtain information on approaching trains or other local emergencies
7. it will have the possibility to use multi-lingual and/or mimics interface to be used in interoperable cross-border services
8. be able to identify the direction of the movement of the worker in case of emergencies to verify if he is using the correct escape routes and possibly suggest alternatives if these are compromised (e.g. in case of smoke in a tunnel)
9. be able to be coupled with a specific worker through biometric sensors to avoid possible misuses of the device by the worker (e.g. abandoning it close to trackside)
10. be robust, highly-reliable and available to be trusted by the workers
11. be able to assume the leader functionality in order to manage trackside workers teams both in normal work and emergencies
12. have low-cost and be based on commercial on the shelf (COTS) products to be adopted in large scale and sustainable in low and medium scale.

Project results:

The main objectives for the reporting period were to complete the following milestones:

1. MIL1: System foundations. The project has completed the risk analysis, defined all the requirements and constraints to be considered to for the ALARP system and the overall system architecture and has therefore completed the basis for the scientific and technical development.
2. MIL2: Phase one (PH1) prototypes. The project has completed the design and the first stage integration of the TPAD and MT prototypes. These components will start to be tested in PH1 testing phase.

Both milestones have been reached according to schedule. Some of the corresponding deliverables have been submitted with some small delay due to the contemporary submission of seven deliverables at month 18 with internal quality review process for five of them.

Potential impact:

ALARP intends to propose: a low-cost personalised (e.g. bracelet- or a watch-type) safe MT with sounding and/or flashing and/or vibrating alarm providing a personalised alarm to each worker; a much simpler system to carry, install and use through an accurate and innovative design; a device with limited training needs through a much simpler user interface to be developed during the project's life.

Moreover, the ALARP ATWS will have the following competitive advantages over existing devices:

1. it will be completely independent from a signalling system, making it usable on any railway type, including scarce traffic and regional lines; it will offer a higher trustability and the possibility to give advice/directions to workers to reach safe areas; it will have staff monitoring;
2. it will offer the possibility to include a wider range of alarm causes; it will not depend on a centralised control room and each MT will be able to assume the leader role thus increasing dependability and availability.

The ALARP will directly contribute to the safety of the rail transport system by developing an innovative ATWS, thus reducing the number of casualties and the number and severity of injuries to the workers.

The ALARP system will not impact, being independent by design, on the safety integrity level (SIL) of the signalling systems.

List of websites:

http://www.alarp.eu