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Automated Rail Cargo Consortium: Rail freight automation research activities to boost levels of quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness in all areas of rail freight operations

Periodic Reporting for period 6 - ARCC (Automated Rail Cargo Consortium: Rail freight automation research activities to boost levels of quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness in all areas of rail freight operations)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2021-04-30

A key moment for ‘shift to rail’ in terms of EU policy has been the publication of the EU’s White Paper on Transport in 2011. One of its goals for a competitive and resource-efficient transport system was:

• 30% of road freight over 300 km should shift to other modes such as rail or waterborne transport by 2030, and more than 50% by 2050, facilitated by efficient and green freight corridors.

Shift2Rail IP5 and the ARCC project address the challenge of a significantly higher modal share of rail freight by increasing the quality and resource efficiency of the rail system and by improving the overall cost structure at the same time. At the same time, the research and innovation actions within ARCC should address the falling profit margins in the railway sector.
Automation and digitalisation are areas that have huge potential and where the rail freight sector has fallen behind other modes of transport such as road. Automation and digitalisation have opened up new opportunities for rail freight both in terms of rolling stock fleet and business (support) processes. They therefore require immediate action and this is be done by focusing on both rail freight assets and operational processes within ARCC.

The activities of the ARCC project will, in their final implementation stage, create the following benefits for freight transportation:

• Increased efficiency on the main railway lines and nodes, reducing lead time and costs.
- 20% energy saving thanks to automatically optimised acceleration and braking patterns for rail freight profiles;
- 50% increase in production capacity, doubling the throughput through infrastructure by reducing required headway (the distance between trains on the network);
- 50% reduction in costs for operating systems.

• Improved services and customer quality so that the operational timetable is reliably met.
- 10% increase in efficiency through greater availability and easier disposition of assets;
- 10% improvement in the punctuality of outgoing trains in local hubs;
- More accurate forecasting of departure and arrival times for customers;
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• Optimised business processes and management of complex situations.
- Significantly improved punctuality through optimised on-time departure and delivery;
- Significantly improved reliability through reduced dependency on and risk related to the human factor;
- A 15% reduction in time when rail assets sit idle within nodes.

• Enhanced interoperability between national railways and single wagonload transport.
- A harmonised European interoperable and backwards compatible Automated Train Operation (ATO) module for use in passenger and rail freight transportation;
- Smooth and seamless automated freight operations across borders between different national railway systems.
The main activities in the ARCC project in 2021 were the finalization of the project including the deinstallation of the ATO technology on the test loco and analysis of the test results as well as the formulation of lessons learned from the tests.

Active work packages of the Automated Rail Cargo Consortium (ARCC) in 2021 have been WP1, WP2 and WP 5 which have all concluded their activities within the reporting period.
The key focus in terms of the IP5 Vision for Freight has been the finalisation of the activities undertaken in WP1 – Automatic Train Operation: Following the large-scale ATO over ETCS demonstration in collaboration with X2Rail-3 in 2020, this included the de-installation of equipment from the testing locomotive, the performance of the test data analysis, finalization of the outstanding deliverables and the final dissemination event, in a joint format with further JU members focussed on rail automation.

The Dissemination activities within the last reporting period in 2021 were focused on the exploitation of the test results from the ARCC Demonstrator and on the organisation and execution of the ARCC Final Event.
The final event took place on the 3rd of May 2021 in form of an online event/webinar due to Covid-19 restrictions. The webinar was aimed not only for Shift2Rail members but also at the entire railway industry. The goal of the event was the presentation of the results from the project ARCC and also from the X2Rail 3 project from IP2.

The ARCC project could achieve comprehensive results during the test phase in 2020. In total the test phase in operational environment in Switzerland lasted for three and half months. Four test runs were done per day and had to handle several real operation situations e.g. delays due to prioritized commercial traffic. The test runs were carried out between commercial runs of passenger trains. At the end the test included 1,740 running train kilometers with an ATO coverage of 98%.
The major task within 2021 was the evaluation of the test results and preparation of the next steps. The purpose of this task was to evaluate and document the achievements, results and the challenges of the tests. Further steps of this task were the creation and summary of lessons learned from the Switzerland Demonstrator.

Achievements of these test phase are:
- Plug & Play has been successfully proven for the test vehicle ATO OB – TCMS interface on the TRAXX AC 1 test train.
- All suppliers were able to control the driving and braking functions of the vehicle over the defined interface.
- There were noticeable differences between the suppliers in the ability to control the loaded heavy long freight train automatically.

The project ARCC could achieve great results in terms of automatic train operation in the rail freight environment and lays a good basis for follow up projects like Fr8Rail IV and the Flagship Area 2 "Digital & Automated up to Autonomous Train Operations" within Europe´s Rail.
ARCC brings together advanced automation and digitalisation processes to the market in a shorter time period. Ambitions for progress beyond the current state of the art technology:
- will be a completely new application in the field of rail freight and will be advanced to an experimental proof of concept to see how a pneumatic brake system works on a large number of coupled freight cars with heavy loads.
- Sensor units will be designed to detect objects on and near the track, which may potentially interfere with the clearance and ground profile. They will safely identify patterns knowing how to distinguish, for example, between the position of trackside poles and humans.
- ‘Real-time yard management’ will increase the cost-efficiency and punctuality of rail freight services at the nodes of the rail network. It will automate decision support for dispatchers, provide operational real-time information for shunters and enable dynamic resource planning.
- Dynamic train paths in the timetable will chang the work for traffic planners and dispatchers, connecting timetable planning closely to operation thereby relying on system intelligence.

All technology developments envisioned and planned within this proposal will lead to the radical innovation of the rail freight sector and therefore require the involvement of key players and decision makers, also at the political level. As its bottom line, ARCC aims at achieving a huge boost in the competitiveness of the rail freight transportation sector due to a sharp increase in resource efficiencies, capacity utilisation, system reliability and flexibility, achieving immediate and sustainable growth on the TEN-T core network freight corridors.
Vision picture of ARCC focus within IP5