Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


CONNECTA Report Summary

Project ID: 730539
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CONNECTA (CONtributing to Shift2Rail's NExt generation of high Capable and safe TCMS and brAkes. Phase 1.)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The Train Control and Monitoring System (TCMS) is the brain and the communications backbone of the train, which has some essential roles on vehicle performance. It integrates and manages all on-board information; it makes train control decisions taking into account the global state of subsystems; it performs communication between equipment, between cars and between vehicles; and it integrates and interacts between different subsystems of the train.
Current practice in industry involves a standard physical TCMS network for train control functions and an additional network (often based on Ethernet) for other functions. This means a considerable amount of on-board cables and therefore weight and complexity. To make matters worse, current TCMS solutions only attain safety levels (SIL 2) which are not sufficient to allow the removal of train safety lines (i.e. more cabling) in place of pure data transmission through the communication buses due to their safe critical mission (SIL 4).
Today coupled trains have become an important bottleneck in terms of performance. Transmission through the auto-coupler is notably impaired by the contact nature and the performance of ETB is much lower. Wireless communications are already a reality, but there are no on-board applications in railways (except internet connection for passengers). As it stands, many uncertainties concerning technology, safety and security block any attempt to use them.
Even when communication is possible, often applications on each side of the coupling are incompatible due to different implementations, versions, or retrofitting states. Self-configuring adaptive solutions providing plug-and-play features through a functional open coupling may solve this issue.
However, the final step is providing a virtual coupling where consists run together, as coupled, but without any physical connection. This means that consists manufactured by different companies and with different interfaces could be virtually coupled, driven together by the leading cabin while sharing the same traffic slot. Pushing this concept to its limit, it would be possible to couple and uncouple consists on-the-fly (i.e. both consists moving or even cruising) and significantly increase the capacity of the line by making long chains of virtually coupled trains.
Moreover, the safety braking related functions (safety brake, safety brake weighing) are still assigned to traditional pneumatic subsystems, components and piping. This implies that all safety related braking functions, due to intrinsic inaccuracy and to temperature and ageing related drifts, do not benefit from the typical accuracy of electronic controls. The fully electronic controlled brake system opens the possibility to optimize the blending between different brake subsystems easily as well as to handle fast changing adhesion conditions effectively. The result would be not only a better braking performance additionally an increasing of safety on train level could be reached by using adhesion independent brake.
CONNECTA aims at contributing to the Shift2Rail’s next generation of TCMS architectures and components with wireless capabilities as well as to the next generation of electronic braking systems. CONNECTA is conducting research into new technological concepts, standard specifications and architectures for train control and monitoring, with specific applications in train-to-ground communications and high safety electronic control of brakes.
The specific actions being undertaken within the scope of CONNECTA and contributing to the Shift2Rail’s Multi-Annual Action Plan on TD1.2 and TD1.5 are:
• To develop the general specifications of next generation TCMS and to generate the corresponding high level system architecture;
• To incorporate wireless technologies to train communication network solutions;
• To provide a train-wide communication network for full TCMS support including the replacement of train lines, connecting safety functions up to SIL4 and support of “fail-safe” and “fail-tolerant” principles, as well as communication mean for non-TCMS functions;
• To standardise functional interfaces of functions and sub systems as well as to define a generic functional architecture for the next TCMS generation;
• To facilitate the coupling of two or more consists supplied by different manufacturers and which could have different train functions;
• To develop a simulation framework in which all subsystems of the train can be simulated, allowing remote and distributed testing including hardware in-the-loop through heterogeneous communication networks;
• To achieve a performance improvement in safety relevant braking functions resulting in optimisation of the braking distances in safety braking;
• To optimise onboard systems by reducing the number of sophisticated pneumatic components and improving the overall LCC;
• To validate non-railway EN standards for use in safety-related railway applications.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the first reporting period the work has been focused on the successful start of the activities and the creation of the project structure and infrastructure to allow a proper execution in terms of quality and time.
Two key deliverables were produced:
• Quality Plan: A guideline describing the general functioning of the project, cooperative tools, governance bodies, internal processes and tools, meeting organisational aspects or best practices amongst other topics.
• Workflow Methodology: This report defines the common working methodology for the overall development process, affecting CONNECTA and later stages, up to the end of Shift2Rail by 2022. Aspects like the development model, requirements management or modelling tools are covered by this deliverable.
In addition, it must be highlighted that much activity on specifications (general and in detail at WP level) took place during the first reporting period to allow delivering a complete set of requirements during the first quarter of 2017.
Last but not least, it can be considered as a great success the establishment of the collaboration between CONNECTA and its complementary action SAFE4RAIL, but also with IP2 X2RAIL-1 and CCA IMPACT-1 projects.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

During this first reporting period there was little time to progress so no technical results were obtained. However the expected impact and progress beyond the state of the art remain the same.
The overall ambition for the new generation of the TCMS and brakes proposed in Shift2Rail is based on the expected evolution of fundamental technologies applied to the following:
• Hybrid wireless communications in-car, between vehicles, to ground
• Reduced number of processors which can handle any function from any system
• Architectures and communications prepared for safety critical functions
• Time and cost efficient homologation and re-homologation
• Elimination of the inaccuracy of pneumatic brake control components in safety related braking functions through Electronic hardware-software architecture

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