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Digitalization and Automation of Freight Rail

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - FR8RAIL II (Digitalization and Automation of Freight Rail)

Reporting period: 2022-01-01 to 2022-12-31

The project has been focusing on various key technologies considered to have a game changing role in the freight environment. Among other things, the project has been looking at (1) improved methods for annual and short-term timetable planning and real-time network management, both for increasing capacity on track and in yards/terminals, at (2) new wagon design, helping to increase payload per meter of train and reduce energy consumption, equipped with DAC, telematics and electification for CBM and further digitalization, at (3) freight locomotives with last mile propulsion based on batteries, featuring radio remote controlled distributed power in the train for long trains up to 1500m and integrating a connected driver advisory system (C-DAS) for further reduction of energy consumption during commercial service. The overall objective of the project has been to develop building blocks with focus on digitalization and automation for increasing the capacity and competitiveness of the rail freight transport.

The project has achieved remarkable results in most areas, including theoretical findings and demonstrations in real environment, such as C-DAS, remote control of 3 locomotives in a long train, improved real-time network management, prototype of a core market wagon, tests of the automatic coupler in Sweden.

The results are a strong fundament for the activities planned in the following projects FR8RAIL III and IV and for dissemination on partner level. In fact, some of the technologies are being further developed by the involved companies.
WP1: In the context of Wagon Design & Automatic Coupling, various tests with the core market wagon (CMW) have been performed. The suitability of different existent bogie or running gear solutions for the extended market wagon were assessed. Critical running gear components have been tested. Two large scale wind-tunnel models have been developed and manufactured. The integration of the Telematics and Electrification into CMW, CBM have been covered. The automatic coupler was tested in Sweden and within the DAC4EU project. All deliverables were submitted and approved. WP is finalized. The project expects to see the dissemination of the results very soon.

In the area of telematics and electrification (WP2) the system analysis has been completed and various architectures were defined. The subsystems were developed and tested (e.g. the connectivity of the various subsystems among each other). The integration with other technologies and systems developed in IP5 has been analyzed, the demonstration plan (to be implemented in later projects) has been finalized. Not all results were achieved, and maturity of some of the results are not inline with the DoA. However, one must consider that the solutions will be further developed within the following projects, where demonstrations are planned. WP2 has accepted a reduction of funding.

For the topic Improved methods for timetable planning (WP3), various activities were performed: 1) a gap analysis between daily timetable and operational control/on time performance, 2) definition of the scope of and the specifications for the demonstrator. The demonstrator for advanced real time network management was implemented and deemed useful. WP is finalized.

WP4 aligned the requirement specifications for C-DAS with the ATO subsets. Furthermore, 2 new functions were defined: Farsight and Rearview. These functions were developed, tested and assessed during a long period of time: They showed a slight improvement in energy efficiency and a good driver acceptance. WP is finalized. Apparently, the solution is being adopted officially by DB Cargo.

The train preparation (freight automation, WP5) list was finalized and the 3 most relevant functions/activities were selected. For these functions, concepts and functional requirement specifications were written and the development was started. In June 2021 the activities were stopped due to failing in securing the vehicles for the demonstration, due to resource (funding and manpower) shortages. the GA was amended. The D5.1 was re-submitted and approved. WP is finalized.

WP6 (Freight propulsion) has focused on the development of the full electric last mile propulsion system. All subsystems were integrated into the cubicle ready for integration into the locomotive. The system was successfully tested in the Powerlab (test with complete (original) traction chain including motors), charging and discharging the battery following real case load cycles. Unfortunately, due to technical issues with the innovative SiC based DC/DC converter the locomotive design authority decided not to allow the integration into the locomotive. Consequently, final demonstration could not be performed and WP6 has accepted a reduction of funding. Alstom continues to develop both the batteries and the DC/DC converter, with the goal to introduce it soon into their locomotives.

For the long train (WP7) the requirements, use cases and new functionalities for the prototype were defined. The safety analysis and the demonstrator done by S2R M2O were reviewed, the assessment for test campaign was done with independent assessors. The technology was developed and installed on 3 locomotives. The demonstration test runs with (1) a heavy freight train and three locomotives distributed in the consist and (2) a train with 835m length successfully implemented and all deliverables submitted and approved (2021). WP is finalized. To our knowledge, DBC continues to develop the product outside of S2R, expected to be introduced in commercial service soon.

The activity on CBM for diesel locos on oil degradation (WP8) focused on optimizing and refining the algorithms by laboratory experiments. The impacts of the various liquids were determined. The sensor was developed, and a functional test was performed. Finally, a field test on 3 locomotives was performed.
- The freight wagon designs brings beneifits to the operators with reduced LCC & new efficient operation concepts.
- The telematics provide the data from the wagons, used for CBM and general monitoring.
- The reduction of operational planning lead-times allows near real-time planning, increases robustness for predictable disturbances, and increases actual on-time performance.
- With a C-DAS, energy efficient driving will improved by factors. While standalone DAS claim up to 2-3% energy saving, C-DAS allows an energy efficiency improvement of up to 7% (in passenger operation up to 15%). The new functions Farsight & Rearview showed promising results, including a furhter improvement in energy savings of up to 2%
- The innovative mission manager further increases the capacity and performance of full electric last mile propulsion systems, providing more precise information on operational range.
- The automation of train preparation activities will significantly improve the operational performances and costs.
- The new radio remote control enables distributed traction in a train consist. Such trains can pull heavier and longer grains, while improving the overall dynamic performance (reducing longitudinal forces) and increasing energy efficiency (higher brake energy recuperation).
- The innovative high-performance oil sensors for diesel engines have proven their capabilities in providing an accurate information on the quality of the oil. This will defintively reduce maintenance costs.
FR8RAIL II significantly contributes to the IP5 Vision