Enhancing the competitiveness of the railway sector

June 28, 2018, CORDIS
Enhancing the competitiveness of the railway sector
Credit: Denis Belitsky, Shutterstock

Enhancing the competitiveness and attractiveness of the railway sector – the core ambition of the Shift2Rail joint undertaking – requires other projects to clear the way. The ROLL2RAIL project played this role by focusing on novel rolling stock technologies and methodologies.

Future trains should be more energy-efficient, lighter, more reliable, have more capacity, cost less over their life cycle, be connected and be more comfortable and attractive. Only then will the railway sector be able to raise its market share.

Of course, getting there won't be easy: there are many obstacles to such radical innovation, and technologies with the potential to rise to this challenge are only in their infancy. This is the context that saw the launch of ROLL2RAIL (New Dependable Rolling Stock for a More Sustainable, Intelligent and Comfortable Rail Transport in Europe), an EU-funded project aiming to develop key technologies and remove blocking points for radical innovation in the field of rolling stock. Being part of a wider long-term strategy to shape the rolling stock of the future and ensure suitable results for integration in Shift2Rail, the project addressed several sub-systems including traction, TCMS, carbody, running gear, brakes, interiors, noise and energy.

"Traction systems have reached their maximum possible efficiency with current power electronics technology (silicon). Our goal was to reap all the benefits of incipient silicon carbide semiconductor technology to create smaller, lighter, more efficient and more reliable railway traction systems, while at the same time addressing low-floor wheel-motor assemblies for high-speed trains," Mr Andrea Demadonna, coordinator of the project on behalf of UNIFE (The European Rail Industry Association), explains. "We also studied key aspects of performance such as noise emission or reliability/availability, along with possible technical standardisation that will lead to cost reductions."

In 30 months, ROLL2RAIL achieved a substantial reduction in the weight and volume of traction converters and motors, and produced calculations for motor cooling noise and specifications for a semi-conductor based on environmental conditions.

Besides traction, the project led to numerous breakthroughs. The first is a Train Control & Management System (TCMS) that uses wireless technologies for train control and monitoring functions, thereby removing the need for onboard communication cables and simplifying the train coupling procedure. The second is a study on adhesive joints as well as on the reduction in weight linked to composite materials; and the third is a market push for running gear technologies and maintenance – in the form of a Europe-wide cost modelling methodology that can quantify the global impact of running gear performance on the economics of the whole railway system.

That's only the tip of the iceberg, as the project also resulted in the following: a set of reduced and harmonised requirements for a braking system to be used in future authorisation processes; a study of publicly available passenger surveys on train comfort and a weighted flexible scoring metric including 24 comfort features; three new noise separation methods (advanced transfer path analysis, beamforming and wave signature extraction) which were tested in real conditions; and an energy norms and standards application guide for KPI generation as well as a calculation methodology. Finally, the consortium developed a KPI tool to assess the impact/improvements of new developments against a baseline.

"ROLL2RAIL results have been designed for use by Shift2Rail as the ultimate end-user. Their benefits will impact not only Innovation Programme 1 (Rolling Stock for passengers) but also advanced traffic management and control systems, infrastructure, freight and cross-cutting activities (CCA) such as noise and energy," Demadonna says. "Shift2Rail will now continue the work we started, in a process that is only natural when considering that more than half of the ROLL2RAIL partners are also members of Shift2Rail."

Explore further: Designing the future of rail travel

Related Stories

Designing the future of rail travel

May 15, 2015

Increased traffic, congestion, security of energy supply and climate change are just some of the many pressing issues that the EU currently faces. In order to fully tackle these challenges, the railway sector must modernise ...

Project puts rail communication networks on right track

April 30, 2018

EU researchers have developed and analysed scenarios of what future rail communication networks might look like. Their methodology will now be freely available to rail and telecom operators to make their own evaluations.

A model for optimising the use of local trains

March 26, 2018

The University of Seville has participated in a project dedicated to optimising both planning and transport systems. David Canca (University of Seville) and Eva Barrena (University Pablo de Olavide) led the study in which ...

Digital rail network mapping achieves efficiencies

April 30, 2018

EU-funded researchers have been able to gather accurate geographical data through the use of drones, remote sensing and 360-degree cameras to deliver digital 3-D models of railway lines. This will assist rail and infrastructure ...

Recommended for you

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex

March 22, 2019

University of Alberta paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed "Scotty," lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.