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PLASA Report Summary

Project ID: 730814
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PLASA (Smart Planning and Safety for a safer and more robust European railway sector)

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

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

This project addresses two out of six different working areas (WA) within S2R Cross Cutting Areas (CCA) in line with the S2R Multi Annual Action Plan (MAAP). These areas are WA 3.1 Safety and WA 4.1 Smart Planning (afterwards named as sub-projects). It aims to ensure that the Research & Innovations activities dealing partially or entirely with railway planning, relevant data or safety issues within the different S2R Innovation Programmes are considered completely and holistically

In Europe, different and often not perfectly suitable planning tools are in use today to simulate railway operations. This leads to results which may not be comparable. Even more important we have a data landscape that has no proper and open data interfaces between different countries implemented. Thus, the simulation of cross-border connections will be more difficult. In addition to the heterogeneous data landscape, no tool has yet been implemented that is able to simulate with a high degree of detail on the one hand, and that can also be used for large networks. In that trade-off, either a wide network or a high degree of detail is dominant. In short, a lack of research in railway simulation can be identified and needs to be overcome. Furthermore, this project will encompass additional research and innovation activities, which will foster significant improvements in long term railway traffic planning. These coherent improvements will enhance performance and resilience whilst lowering costs in future railway activities.

In addition, in the field of railway safety a broad approach that is not only based on rules and policies is missing. Although railways have a high aspiration level on safety, structured risk assessments have been neglected in the past. In the automotive and aerospace sector already such comprehensive methods used. Although railway transportation has a long history in safety management, current approaches do not cover all situations by rules and safety it is often insufficiently managed in operation. In particular, risk management is often not based on a complete risk assessment and thus, inappropriate decisions and a decreased safety level in railways can arise. The expected impact of PLASA's Safety sub-project is to deliver a methodology to improve the design making process for safety management.

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

In addition to the coordination of the different sub-projects within PLASA, the technical work was mainly driven by the Smart Planning and Safety sub-project. The work carried out so far can be summarized as follows:

In the Smart Planning sub-project, a literature survey was conducted to assess the state of the art in railway planning. The assumption that there is a lack of methods that can combine a high level of detail with simulations of large networks was confirmed. This sets the basis for the research to be carried out in the coming months. In addition, a survey among railway stakeholders was conducted, examining the planning tools used in the industry. Here, again, it was confirmed that the current tools are either suitable for very detailed or for very large scale simulations, but not both.

In the Safety the project, an extensive research of the state of the art methods and tools used to assess the risk in different domains has been carried out. In particular a list of “methods”, that are approaches to assess the risk, have been analysed in different industrial sectors and in the railway domain while the “tools”, that are basic technics to evaluate the safety (FTA, FMECA, etc.), has been reviewed. From these elements, a promising approach has been identified, its main advantage being to provide key elements to support the decisions of the managers or institutions that are responsible for the safety.

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)

The project PLASA improves the punctuality and safety of the railway system – so the overall quality and customer satisfaction will increase significantly.

The output of the Smart Planning sub-project is expected to improve the quality of planning activities for railway undertakings and infrastructure managers. This will lead to a more robust and reliable railway system. In particular, it will improve the punctuality of trains, minimize operational disruptions, and render the system better able to respond quickly to disruptions. It will also improve the measurability for future planning decisions by enabling an estimation of the effects of planning actions. This reduces the dependency of gut reactions in decision making, especially in larger projects where state of the art simulation concepts cannot be applied.

The expected impact of PLASA's Safety sub-project is to improve the design making process to manage the safety of the railway system at a global level. This integrated approach to deal with the safety of the railway system will also enable taking the best decision, every day, in operation. The safety performance will be measured by metrics which may depend on the type of application but which can be used to prevent from safety events.
This improved safety management will preserve and enhance the safety level of the railway systems which is a key value in transportation. It will then help to promote the modal shift for railway transportation.

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