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Digitalization and Automation of Freight Rail

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FR8RAIL II (Digitalization and Automation of Freight Rail)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-12-31

Within the challenges highlighted in the IP5 part of the S2R Master Plan, FR8RAIL II - Digitalization and Automation of Freight Rail - further focuses on improving the freight eco system by addressing various challenges: New automatic couplers (1), provided with electrical and data transmission functionalities will massively improve the efficiency of the train composition process, new telematics and electrification (2) will enable Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) by collecting, transmitting and using the necessary information while being supplied with the required energy by means of an advanced energy management system.

Improved methods for annual and short-term timetable planning (3) will help traffic operators increasing the overall capacity and raise punctuality and with Real-time network management (4), integrating medium to short-term and operational planning at yards/terminals and in the railway network, inefficiencies will be further reduced or even eliminated.

Future freight wagon design (5) is a stream that will contribute in improving reliability of the freight transport while increasing the payload per meter of train. The latter one will be propelled by future main line electric freight locomotives featuring highly flexible and partly automated freight propulsion (6) systems with reduced operational costs. Furthermore, these new freight trains will be propelled by more than one locomotive running with distributed power (7), thus allowing long freight trains up to 1,500 m. Last but not least, focus is given to driver advisory aystems that are connected (C-DAS) to the traffic management systems (8), further enhancing capacity, improving punctuality and optimize energy consumption of the railway system.

Summarizing, FR8RAIL II, divided in 8 technical work packages focuses on various facets of the freight eco system with one goal: overall improvement and increase of competitiveness of the rail freight transport.
(1) The technical specifications for the automatic coupling, running gear and wagon design have been reviewed and documented.
(2) In the area of telematics and electrification new use cases were defined and all others refined. Furthermore, the subsystems where identified and their development has started
(3) For the topic Improved methods for annual and short-term timetable planning, various activities were performed: the demonstrator concept and first prototype for improved timetable planning was described, Trafikverket’s requirements and Swedish legislation on IT security were identified to be tackled in S1/2020. The demonstrator concept is an intelligent planning module with a lose connection to Prism (Swedish prsim simulator is developed by Trafikverket in co-operation with KTH, Prism kernel is developed by DB and comes from Plasa project).
(4) The technical specifications for the running gear and wagon design have been reviewed and documented.
(5) With respect to future freight locomotive activities, focus was on the mission manager so far, where the various use cases and the advanced control and energy management concepts were defined. Furthermore, most of today’s manual train preparation activities were collected, evaluated and summarized. Concepts for automating these activities will be the next step.
(6) On the long train topic, the activities performed in FFL4E were continued, defining additional functions, evaluating new possibilities for the radio system, allowing multiple traction. Actions were aligned with the OC M2O, especially regarding the safety case of trains with various load configurations.
(7) Last but not least, the requirement specification for a C-DAS have been done, considering the various existing and evolving standards, applications, requirements.
(1) The new Automatic Coupling solution developed and demonstrated in this project will contribute to increase the competitiveness of the freight transport by reducing operational costs, increasing the monitoring capacity, asset traceability enabling CBM features and increasing personnel safety.
(2) The telematics will provide the data from the wagon. The on-board unit will allocate wagon services relating to maintenance and positioning. This data might be additionally used for other applications more than CBM. The various systems and subsystems will be developed and validated. Furthermore, also link to other applications, such as automatic coupler, intelligent video gate and real time network management will be analyzed.
(3) Increased knowledge about gap between planning and operations with respect to timetables and identification and demonstration of improvements in processes and decision support systems will lead to a substantial reduction of operational planning lead-times, allowing near real-time planning, increase robustness for predictable disturbances, and thereby increase actual on-time performance.
(4) With a connected DAS, energy efficient driving of freight rain will improved by factors. While standalone DAS claim to allow up to 2-3% energy efficiency, C-DAS will allow an energy efficiency improvement of ideally up to 15%, in reality around 7%.
(5) The innovative mission manager will further increase the capacity and performance of full electric last mile propulsion systems, providing more precise information on operational range based on a big data approach.
(6) The analysis of the train preparation activities performed manually nowadays and the development of automation concepts for some of them will have a significant impact on the operational performances and costs.
(7) The radio and the functionalities developed and tested in the project will allow to remote control more than just one loco, thus allowing multiple locomotive traction units in a train consist.
(8) Last but not least, related to CBM, innovative high-performance fluid sensors are being developed for the locomotive bogies that will allow to reduce maintenance costs.
FR8RAIL II significantly contributes to the IP5 Vision