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European Satellite Navigation System



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Revitalising the railways is one of the priorities defined in the Commission White Paper on Transport. The share of freight transport by the rail has declined from 21% in 1970 to 8% in 1998. To reverse this trend, the rail sector must gain competitiveness and GALILEO will contribute to it. The number of traction units today in Europe is estimated at 30,000 (140,000 world wide) for 165,000 km of tracks (more than 900,000 world-wide). This makes the rail sector of primary importance for GALILEO.

GALILEO will be able to offer numerous rail transport applications, ranging from traffic, wagon and cargo control and monitoring to train signalling, track survey and passenger information services. In particular, GALILEO will make it possible to reduce distances between trains and therefore increase train frequency. In addition, it will make it easier to locate the entire rail fleet.

Some examples of practical uses of GALILEO:

Train Control

High Speed Train İEuropean Commission's Audiovisual LibraryThe general trend in European railways is the standardisation process of the main subsystems involved in railway operations, in order to reach efficient interoperability. In particular, the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) is becoming the European standard for train control, signalling and traffic management. Two layers of ERTMS can rely on satellite navigation: the European Train Control System (ETCS), which deals with train control and protection and the European Traffic Management Layer (ETML) dealing with non safety of life related aspects like traffic management and regulation. The introduction of satellite navigation within the ETCS/ERTMS will mainly contribute to increase the performance on the high-density line and lower the cost on low density and regional lines.

GALILEO can contribute to high safety levels worldwide and particularly where there is no trackside equipment. All over the world, many railway lines are not equipped for train control. With increasing transport load on railways without complete signalling equipment the number of errors increases too. A complete installation of signalling equipment is, however, not economical for these lines. GALILEO, combined with communication services, will offer to railway operators a supervision system that gives the locomotive driver and the centre station an additional means for monitoring of operations. 

Fleet Management and Goods Tracking

Current technologies used for location of rail vehicles and trains in Europe are ground-based solutions, with high equipment and maintenance costs. Use of satellite navigation will reduce cost, allowing cheap train signalling and traffic management systems whilst simultaneoulsy increasing line capacity and efficiency.

Applications are also being developped for proximity alarms, triggering reports when two trains on the same track are too close and velocity limit alarms to report that a train is surpassing the allowed speed for that section of the track. 

In the non safety-of-life application sector, many national train fleets already use satellite navigation for fleet management. These systems, along with proper communications infrastructure, allow tracking and monitoring of rolling stocks, especially of locomotives, enabling operators to efficiently track the position of their resources. With a view to half a million transport wagons and some 100,000 vehicles (including locomotives and passenger transport vehicles) in use today, GALILEO performances offer opportunities to enter a large professional European market with specific needs.

GALILEO will help to organise rolling stock significantly, improve rolling stock maintenance, enable effective goods tracking and help to simplify route pricing and to supervise track usage.

Passenger Information

Information about train arrival and departures time, especially when there are delays, is important to maintain a good service. On-board passenger information is also essential. Knowing the position of the train can also provide additional services to the train passengers, such as connection and tourist information. Equipping engines and carriages with GALILEO receivers will allow operators to track their vehicles and efficiently provide their clients with up-to-date information.

Tracks İEuropean Commission's Audiovisual LibraryRail Track Survey

Surveying track status is an important task for ensuring safe passage for trains. A good survey needs accurate position determination and synchronisation between the positioning system and other testing/inspection systems. Satellite navigation services are also used for construction work where very precise differential techniques are used.

For all the above-mentioned applications, the GALILEO system will have a primary role, due to its inner characteristics of certification, operation transparency, and service guarantee derived from its civil nature. In addition to that, the feature of the real time navigation performance integrity monitoring (the so-called "integrity flags") over the service area, makes the GALILEO system suitable for all safety-of-life requirements.

GALILEO Benefits

By integrating GALILEO with other technologies, the rail sector can benefit from:
- increased performance of transport by rail and facilitated shift of transport from road to rail;
- reducing or even avoiding some trackside equipment and having a more economical solution for Train Control;
- high positioning accuracy for efficient track survey;
- a unique tool that contributes to many different functions.

GALILEO Application Sheet: pdf Rail  (100 Kb)

see also: Pilot project GADEROS

last update: 10-02-2009