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Translation for breaking language barriers in the railway field

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Translate4Rail (Translation for breaking language barriers in the railway field)

Période du rapport: 2020-12-01 au 2021-11-30

The ambition of the Sector is to increase the modal share of rail freight in Europe from the current 18% to 30% by 2030 thus contributing to the Green Deal objectives. To reach this, action is needed to remove interoperability barriers. For the rail freight sector, driving a train through Europe should become as easy as driving a truck. One of the obstacles to overcome and achieve this goal is the removal of the language barrier in cross border operation. This is what the “Translate4Rail” (T4R) project addresses and this is how it contributed towards enhanced competitiveness for the sector and simplified / seamless cross-border operation.
The concept of the T4R project was to offer drivers a fully comprehensive set of predefined standardised messages which encompass all they have to exchange with an IM traffic controller in normal or exceptional operational situations in a country where they do not understand nor speak the local language. These messages coupled with a prototype translation tool used via a tablet device should offer a solution to the stated problem without compromising security of operation. T4R is a S2R funded project which spanned over two years. It was led by the International Union of Railways (UIC) and RailNetEurope (RNE).
Translate4Rail objectives for the reporting period M13-M24 were the following:
• Achieving a functional language tool after laboratory testing and enhancement completed through D1.3 on M19;
• Testing the prototype with the support of IMs and RUs in Austrian-Italian frontier, achieved in M18, M19 and M24;
• Final list of tool requirements available for RUs and IMs community through D1.3 on M19;
• Ensuring safety level remained as the same level as today, report on safety aspects including the results of two safety workshops held in the second reporting period on 10/09/2021 and 19/11/2021, achieved on M24;
• Sharing valuable experiences gained in Translate4Rail. Recommendation guidelines gathering inputs on pilot campaigns and capitalisation of experience and analysis of uptake perspective at European level completed by D2.2 on M24;
• Sharing experiences of the project in the final conference on 10/12/2021;
• Regularly updating Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation plan based on the information of the second period on M24;
• Updating Data Management Plan based on the information of the second period on M24.

Overview of the main results:
• T4R showed the possibility to overcome language issues in the short run and showed that the route into a single European Railway Area this perspective is feasible.
• Translate4Rail addressed language barriers in international freight trains. The concept was developed and tested within two pilots.
• Pre-defined messages are the core and safety critical element of the concept.
• The results show the language tool based on pre-defined messages can assist train drivers and traffic controllers who don’t speak the same language.
• This ability opens an opportunity for being more flexible for the railway sector in case of international freight trains. It shows its importance particularly in accidents and unpredicted changes in the international freight operations.
• Capitalising on the outcome of the Translate4Rail project, and based on identified enhancements, further development of the prototype is recommended to achieve full operational deployment. To reach European-wide uptake, performing operational pilots in the corridors with high priority should be considered in the next step.
•The prototype of the language tool demonstrated the possibilities of speech to speech communication in addition to speech to text.
•The project proposed a sector solution to address in a pragmatic manner the lack of multilingual drivers for cross border traffic where different national languages are spoken and facilitating the development of cross border traffics.
•In 2021, the T4R pilot was one of the frontrunners addressing aspects of the of the Train Driver Directive, offering alternatives to overcome language barriers in cross border traffic.
•The project demonstrated by means of pilot testing how a driver can safely and efficiently communicate with the traffic controller from another country in a language in which he may have no proficiency.
•Safety was transversal in T4R and a safety by design approach is being followed in the various components of the project (prototype tool development, pilot testing etc).
•The removal of the language barrier is key to enable the rail freight sector to be more agile and lead to productivity enhancement by reducing the average time at border section.
•The impacts is a better reliability of train travel by increasing in the number of drivers that are able to drive at border section with and without the tool, better use of existing network capacity, greater availability of the drivers forces and an increase of competitiveness. The attractiveness of rail transport will improve supported also by the expected transit time reduction highly appreciated by the clients.
•The results showed the capacity of the infrastructure network at border crossings could be increased as trains are no longer obliged to stop at the last possible station to change drivers or to embark on a second one as the case may be.
•The operations are expected to improve with the standardization of the messages exchanged clarifying the communications between drivers and traffic controllers. The result should equally be better competitiveness which can be reflected by the average time gained for training a driver to A2 level compared to training a driver to B1 level.
•The tool has the potential to enable to enlarge the geographical areas of work for the drivers. It is expected to increase their motivation and bring more flexibility and productivity to RUs.
•The project showed an impact on increasing capacity and reliability which then result in improving sustainability of the transport market. Indeed, the shift to rail is the main way to combine growth and climate goals.
Translate4Rail Project Impact