CORDIS - EU research results

Modular urban guided rail systems

Final Report Summary - MODURBAN (Modular urban guided rail systems)

MODURBAN was the first project of its kind - a Europe-wide joint precompetitive R&D project. It brings together all the major rail industry systems integrators and suppliers, European urban rail operators and universities in a consortium with 39 members. Project management is being handled by Unife, the European association for the railway supply industry. The project's general objectives are fully in line with Unife's mission to promote greater standardisation and the harmonisation of interfaces.

The project was divided into six sub-projects:
- Mod-Onboard, dealing with onboard subsystems, led by Alstom Transport;
- Mod-Wayside, looking at wayside subsystems, led by Ansaldo STS;
- Mod-Comm, examining the data communication subsystem, led by Thales RSS;
- Mod-Access, focusing on passenger and access related subsystems, led by Knorr-Bremse;
- Mod-Energy to assess energy savings-related subsystems, led by Siemens;
- and finally Mod-System, which adopted a complete system approach for functional and technical specifications and global risk assessment, led by RATP.

There was also a Users Group, which consisted of operators not direct members of the consortium. Their input and feedback on key deliverables has been important in order to validate and disseminate some of the results.

Interoperability is a key talking point for urban rail operators today, just as much as it is for Europe's main line railways. But unlike the main lines, which are concerned about cross-border operation of passenger and freight trains, interoperability in the urban sector is all about technical compatibility between existing lines and network extensions.

This is particularly critical at a time of rapid technical development, notably the emergence of communications- based train control systems with a much higher level of on-board intelligence. For example, operators want to be able to take a trainset from one line and run it on another within the same network.

The consortium's goal was to achieve a reduction in the overall cost of buying and operating a rail system, through the development of a specification - reflecting world best practice - which fulfils the operators' essential requirements.

The major result after almost four years was the 'functional requirement specifications' (FRS). Known as D80, this document encapsulates the recommended functional and performance requirements for command, control and train management systems for urban rail applications. It is fully endorsed by operators and by the entire MODURBAN consortium.

Based on many years of operating and manufacturing experience, the FRS includes a complete set of 'ready-to-use' requirements. It covers networks ranging from manually driven trains to fully driverless operation. A common system core ensures a seamless upgrade route from one level of automation to the next, right up to unattended train operation. The basic operational characteristics outlined in the FRS include:
- general requirements;
- functional requirements;
- grades of automation;
- interoperability requirements;
- principles for degraded operation;
- system performance requirements.

The functional specifications contain a complete set of functions and requirements based on 'mandatory functions' and 'optional functions' according to the Grades of Automation. These cover functions for train operation, including rules to ensure safe movement of trains, functions for operation management and supervision, as well as system performance criteria, for example those related to passenger exchange (boarding and alighting at stations).

The benefits are crystal clear: the assurance of having a comprehensive set of requirements, derived from the wealth of experience gained by major players, which represents a state-of-the-art performance specification with no surprises.

Under MODURBAN's common system architecture, functions are allocated to a system or subsystem level. The main advantage of this common architecture is that it is applicable to all system configurations with or without existing interlockings, with or without secondary train detection, and it is capable of accommodating different levels of automation.

One of MODURBAN's most innovative achievements is the definition of a commonly agreed 'faulttolerant data communication system' which is transparent to the train control system. Today almost all urban rail operators have a multitude of data and voice communication systems, both fixed link and radio. Each of these has a dedicated role - for example one to deal with train control and signalling, another with video surveillance, another for voice communications, and so on. However, none of them are interoperable and they cannot talk to one another.

Other achievements include the 'intelligent driving' concept, which addresses the problems of variation in train parameters with time, and the deviation of the train parameters (such as braking and traction capacities and reaction times) outside the normal range, across an entire fleet. Intelligent Driving is able, for example, to learn the train parameters and verify their deviation, and adjust the key parameters where necessary in order to compensate for any observed deviations in train performance.

With regards to passenger information systems, MODURBAN has delivered an overview of this equipment and its functions, together with a comparison of the principal European products. It has also defined Passenger Information System interfaces to other MODURBAN subsystems, and provided a useful overview of regulations in the EU member states in the field of video surveillance, as well as a functional description of the system architecture.

With a much greater awareness of energy consumption and the need for energy saving, there has been considerable interest in MODURBAN's work in this field. A number of energy saving models have been reviewed and validated against real-life data. One specific result has been the development of a prototype lightweight interior grab rail.

The MODURBAN project culminated with the final presentation and tests of some of its technologies on Metro de Madrid Line 9, on 16 and 17 December 2008. Using a dedicated MODURBAN train, it showcased successfully:
- the 'intelligent driving' concept;
- operation of the interchangeable data communication system;
- onboard and wayside equipment for passenger information and video systems;
- the use of lightweight materials, notably the new grab rails.