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Digitalization and Automation of Freight Rail

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - FR8RAIL II (Digitalization and Automation of Freight Rail)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2021-12-31

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. Finally focus is given to the connected driver advisory systems (C-DAS) to the traffic management systems (8), further enhancing capacity, improving punctuality and optimize energy consumption of the railway system.

Summarizing, the 8 technical work packages focuse on various facets of the freight eco system with one goal: overall improvement and increase of competitiveness of the rail freight transport.
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 and aut. coupler have been covered. The automatic coupler has been developed and was tested in Sweden and within the DAC4EU project. All deliverables were submitted and approved. WP is finalized.

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. All deliverables were rejected in early 2021. Consequently, activities have been focused on improving the deliverable which were submitted by the end of the year.

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.

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 worked with a significant effort and succeeded in finalizing the development of the full electric last mile propulsion system. The battery, its thermal conditioning unit and the battery management system have been successfully tested in the battery lab. All subsystems were integrated into the cubicle which will be integrated into the locomotive. Technical issues with the innovative SiC based DC/DC converter have delayed the final tests in the Powerlab (test with complete (original) traction chain including motors), activity required before final integration into the loco. Remaining activities planned for Q1/2022.

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.

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 carried, providing information on the oil condition. The WP was completed in 2020.
- 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