CORDIS - EU research results

Real time information applications and energy efficient solutions for rail freight

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - FR8HUB (Real time information applications and energy efficient solutions for rail freight)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2021-02-28

The project addresses the issue of low competitiveness in rail freight due to service shortcomings and aims to introduce new technologies and production concepts. This is important for society because it improves transparency, flexibility, and integration, meeting customer expectations. The project's objectives include gradual implementation of new solutions, development of maintenance dashboards, and a real-time network management system to increase rail freight performance and productivity. The results show that Intelligent Video Gate technology saves time and enhances terminal productivity, with potential staff reduction and improved operations. The project emphasises the need for a migration approach, offering a timeline for technology deployment and scenarios for sector transformation. It holds societal significance by promoting rail usage and mitigating the environmental impact of freight transportation.
FR8HUB communication purpose is to promote Shift2Rail, raise awareness of the project FR8HUB, its activities and technologies, inform about the project results, engage the relevant communities and promote the results for a successful exploitation. The Quality Plan developed for the dissemination and communication strategy aims to guarantee the quality assurance process all along the project, describing all adopted procedures. Dissemination videos - ,

The Migration Plan for European rail freight introduces new technologies and solutions based on market conditions and customer expectations. It emphasizes the need to change service provision to meet expectations of transparency, flexibility, and integration. The plan outlines a two-part migration approach, with both evolutionary and revolutionary paths running parallel for approximately 20 years. It includes a timeline for technology readiness and proposes five initial packages to initiate the migration process. The plan highlights the potential for improved transport performance and productivity through automated freight trains, real-time network management, and advanced wagon materials.

The project has designed dashboards for maintenance experts to provide easier access to information such as costs, wear, and maintenance activities. The dashboards can be customised to cover the whole fleet of a wagon type, different clusters, or single wagons. The level of analysis can be adjusted from the wagon as a whole down to single components. The dashboards are advantageous for users as they provide easier accessibility to information, saving time previously spent on collecting data from different systems and departments and carrying out manual analysis.

A tool was developed to enhance the manual process of rescheduling trains from Swedish yards, allowing for quick route optimization. It assists dispatchers in assessing the possibility of early or delayed departures and their implications. Increasing freight train speed may create conflicts with regional trains and reduce line capacity. However, equipping rolling stock for higher speeds in case of delays, rather than overall higher speeds in timetables, shows promise.

The project has developed a concept for an Intelligent Video Gate (IVG) installed on the entrance/exit tracks of terminals. The IVG consists of structural, technical, and logical components and has been demonstrated to show its capabilities. The project has developed detailed functional descriptions of the IVG data handling and a theoretical proof-of-concept. Exploitable results include knowledge for implementation and roll-out and this will be further developed in other projects.

The Hybridisation of the legacy shunting fleets aims to reduce the lifecycle cost and defend rail freight's position as the most environmentally friendly mode of transport by developing guidelines, technical concepts, and design studies for a modular hybrid concept for these locomotives. Two prototypes have been optimised to save more than 20% of energy, and simulations have been successfully validated by bench testing. The results have been transmitted for possible innovations on main line locomotives.

The Last Mile Propulsion project aims to address the non-electrified "last mile" of the rail network. The investigation indicates that a power output of 230 to 300 kW is sufficient for a Last Mile Unit, and all three technologies (diesel genset, fuel cell, and traction battery) can meet heavy shunting requirements. The traction battery stands out as the most efficient and cost-effective solution, with potential for future development. Both LM Diesel and hydrogen fuel cell are viable alternatives. For power peak shaving, a combination of battery and supercap modules is optimal for the given use cases, while a combination of both energy storage types is best for supporting the substation's power supply.
Condition-based maintenance alters the maintenance strategy and has advanced in four aspects: gathering failure data through lab tests for monitored wagon components, selecting sensors to detect common component failures, synchronising measured values with the vehicle's position and route, and utilising low-power, low-data-rate wireless communication systems.

Efficient methods for yard and line planning in timetables and operational traffic consider real-time data from yards and terminals. They employ train traffic simulation to estimate delays and aim to automate tasks for traffic planners and dispatchers. Evaluations of faster freight trains with improved acceleration and braking revealed the potential to reduce gaps in the daytime timetable between fast passenger and slower freight trains. This allows for increased capacity without requiring infrastructure investments.

The implementation of an IVG in the railway section accelerates and improves the data quality of the inbound processes, reduces dwell times and increases punctuality as well as terminal capacity. It reduces complaints about damages in the terminal due to high resolution images already at the time the train is arriving. IVG significantly improves safety, integrity of the processes and reliability in the processing of relevant data.

To quickly react to competitive pressure and reduce LCC, hybridisation of legacy shunters is paramount. This included a cost-efficient concept for hybridisation including five innovative aspects beyond state-of-the-art: Electro-mechanical drive, Battery technology, Modularisation, Different combinations of testing with selected components, Automation focus

The goal was to integrate high-power propulsion systems (>350kW) into a compact space. Additionally, energy efficiency would be greatly improved by integrating robust energy storage systems for traction in dual mode locomotives, as well as smaller decentralised energy storage systems to power onboard systems locally. The objective was to implement peak power shaving concepts for both individual locomotives and entire fleets, utilising real-time communication and advanced shaving algorithms.
FR8HUB contribution to IP5 vision