CORDIS - EU research results

Innovative modular vehicle concepts for an integrated European railway system

Final Report Summary - MODTRAIN (Innovative modular vehicle concepts for an integrated European railway system)

The project 'Innovative Modular Vehicle Concepts for an Integrated European Railway System' (MODTRAIN) aimed to define and demonstrate the necessary functional, electrical and mechanical interfaces and validation procedures to deliver a range of interchangeable modules which will form the basis for the next generation of intercity trains and universal locomotives. The concept of modularity is believed to create economic advantages for both railway suppliers and operators such as reduced manufacturing costs and enhanced economies of scale, greater productivity of new rolling stock and improved reliability due to proportionally higher use of service proven components in rolling stock design.

In the late 20th century, the European Union identified as one of its key objectives the need to revitalise the rail sector in order to meet the challenges of ever-increasing demand for freight and passenger transport. In order to support the rail sector in boosting its competitiveness, the EU launched a first and then second legislative package. In these packages, the Commission developed the Interoperability Directives, which set basic standards to ensure safe and uninterrupted rail traffic on the Trans-European Network.

The MODTRAIN project covered four principle areas of train architecture, which were mirrored in the subproject structure:
- running gear (MODBOGIE), led by Ansaldobreda
- train control and monitoring system (MODCONTROL), led by Alstom
- on-board power system (MODPOWER), led by Siemens
- man-machine and train-to-train interfaces (MODLINK), led by FAV Berlin and Bombardier

Though the sub-projects cover a variety of areas of investigation, they were nonetheless integrated in one overall structure. The project's Technical Management Team (TMT), made up of the sub-project leaders, played a key role ensuring the consistency and cross-fertilisation of the different sub-projects.
Whereas the TMT served to ensure internal coordination, MODUSER, the users' platform (and fifth sub-project), was created to ensure the dissemination of the results across the sector as a whole. This body enabled other players in the sector – operators and manufacturers – not directly involved the project to make an indirect contribution. In this sense, the role of the National Associations, representing their national SMEs, has been central.
Though the MODTRAIN project is composed of four different sub-projects, they all share one aim - to boost rail competitiveness through standardisation and modularisation - and a common methodology.

The project started by compiling the requirements ensuing from either European legislation (Technical Specifications for Interoperability - TSI), European standards (ENs) or operator standards (Operational Requirements Specifications - UIC Leaflet 612).
A complete set of Functional & System Requirement Specifications were then developed based on a set of standardised Functional Requirement Specifications (FRS). Finally, the main interfaces to be standardised were identified and the related standards drafted.

The MODBOGIE sub-project, led by AnsaldoBreda and supported by Politecnico di Milano, focused its work on standardisation issues in order to harmonise the reference functional and physical interfaces, operational requirements and acceptance procedures for the interchangeable modules to be supplied and fitted to the next generation of high speed trains. Work centred on the definition of interchangeable bogie components (dampers, wheel sets) and the relevant testing and acceptance procedures, focusing on two key issues: the first relating to full standardisation of overall dimensions and mountings (geometrical interchangeability); the second intended to harmonise performance (full interchangeability).

The sub-project MODPOWER, addressing onboard electric power supply, offered an opportunity to analyse the applicable system architectures in a working group consisting of key stakeholders in the rail sector. Innovative target solutions were developed and evaluated, rendering possible the following standardisation measures.

MODLINK was responsible for defining, testing, specifying and standardising interoperable manmachine interfaces (MMIs) for train drivers, onboard staff and passengers. MODLINK also tackled train-to-train data interfaces.

The EUCAB workstream aimed to create a harmonised working environment for European train drivers. Work therefore built on former European projects such as EUDD, SAFETRAIN, TRAINCOM, etc. Further input on the EUCAB project was provided by in-depth analysis of drivers' cabs in state-of-the-art rolling stock (locomotives and multiple units). The next step used an iterative process to define the Functional Requirements Specifications (FRS) and System Requirement Specifications (SyRS) for the main driver's cab sub-systems, drawing on the industrial and operational expertise of all project partners.

The EUPAX workstream focused on the international harmonisation of MMIs for passengers and train staff, including improved access for persons with reduced mobility (PRMs). Adopting a similar approach to that of EUCAB, the EUPAX team developed FRS and SyRS for those sub-systems constituting MMIs, such as:
- the door portal, including the door opening and closing devices
- passenger information systems (PIS)
- safety alarm systems (SAS)
- PRM-relevant devices (toilets, guidance devices, etc.)

The main objective of the EUCOUPLER workstream was to specify an interoperable data link between trains and locomotives. It represents an important milestone towards the vision of 'open coupling' - seamless connection between trains from different operators all over Europe. The EUCOUPLER team worked closely alongside the MODCONTROL sub-project in a series of steps to define a comprehensive set of communication services for future implementation.

The MODCONTROL sub-project led by ALSTOM was responsible for standardising the Train Control and Monitoring System (TCMS) functions and the interfaces between the TCMS and the train subsystems within the MODTRAIN project. To achieve this goal, the first step was to draw up a detailed FBS (Functional Breakdown Structure) of rolling stock functions, including TCMS functions, and a detailed PBS (Product Breakdown Structure) of the sub-systems and outputs of the rolling stock system.

The European MODBRAKE project was set up as an extension of the MODTRAIN project in order to consider as an entire sub-system the brake system of high speed trains and universal locomotives with speeds of over 190km/h. The aims of the MODBRAKE project therefore ensued from the need to address brake issues from a systems point of view, which was not fully covered by the MODTRAIN project. MODBRAKE is a Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP) and contributes to the Sustainable Surface Transport Priority of FP 6. MODBRAKE addresses brake-related issues of interoperability and standardisation in line with the MODTRAIN structure of sub-systems.

MODTRAIN paves the way for a new type of cooperation between the various players in the sector. Above and beyond the mandatory requirements defined in European regulations, MODTRAIN proves that voluntary harmonisation is both feasible and contributes to the objectives of greener, safer and faster trains for Europe.