standard driver's desk is one key to interoperability'
The European rail industry is in a state of rapid
transformation aimed at meeting the increasing expectations and demands
of today's market. Rail interoperability, defined as the operational and
technical integration of the different national railway systems in the
European Union and the accession countries, is a key element in this transformation.
Its successful achievement will bring a host of benefits to citizens and
businesses via seamless rail connections and better coordination of operating
rules and communication and signalling systems.
Efficient transport and mobility are the lifeblood
of the European economy and an indispensable factor in Europe's competitive
and sustainable growth, enhancing communication, economic growth and social
stability. As with any modern transport network, European transport must
have, as a key component, a well coordinated, smoothly functioning international
The main challenge today for the European rail industry
is to develop maximum passenger/customer value. Trains have to be safe,
clean, reliable, and on time, both for passengers and stock. Improved
services would give rail transport a huge competitive edge, making it
the best way to combine low travel time with easy accessibility to both
leisure and professional hubs.
In recent years, some national operators have been
replaced by transnational structures. These have tended to establish more
dynamic market policies aimed at meeting customers' needs and creating
a more positive public image. The new policies are backed up by innovative
and improved products and services and support alliances both within and
without the rail sector.
||Towards a single
European railway system
its part, the European Commission has stressed the importance of
rail interoperability as a prerequisite to any revitalisation of
the rail system. In its 1996 Directive on 'Conventional Rail Interoperability',
it set the regulatory framework necessary to enhance attractiveness,
competitiveness and efficiency of rail operations. Its aim is to
harmonise the specifications of rolling stock, signalling, command
and control and telecommunications systems, noise emissions, operating
rules, maintenance and repair and conformity assessment.
More recently, in May 2001, European rail organisations
delivered to Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin a document entitled
'Joint strategy for European rail research 2020 - Towards a single
European railway system'. The Commissioner applauded the document
and suggested that it should serve as a basis for elaborating relevant
sections of the new Framework Programme (2002-2006). In fact, it
represents a long-term research guide, which can be used in identifying
potential projects for EU co-funding and in deciding where and when
specific work should be carried out.
Among other things, the 'Joint Strategy' document
recommended the establishment of a European
Advisory Council on Rail Research (ERRAC) , comprising representatives
of the various rail stakeholders and aimed at helping to promote
the concept of the European Research Area (ERA) in this sector.
ERRAC was launched by Commissioner Busquin on November 26, 2001
at the World Congress on Railway Research in Cologne. In his opening
address, Busquin said, "Today, our research efforts are turning
towards answering the needs and expectations of society, improving
safety, reducing travel times and increasing efficiency and comfort.
As we work towards establishing our next Framework Programme for
Research and Development, we are seeking to support a Common Transport
Policy aimed at liberalisation, development and especially interoperability,
all of which will allow us to better respond to these needs. The
creation of a single European rail system will therefore require
that all of the relevant players - manufacturers, operators, managers
and researchers - commit themselves to a unified long-term development
ERRAC 2020's primary mission will be to establish
and carry forward a Strategic Research Agenda that will influence
the planning of research programmes, particularly national and EU
programmes, in line with the Joint Strategy 2020 document.
of environmentally friendly, reliable and safe rail transport of
passengers and goods within and across national borders is a major
EU objective. Numerous technical barriers, such as different track
widths, supply voltages, signalling and electrical systems have
long been identified. On a more fundamental level, a major barrier
to the success of a new integrated rail strategy is the current
lack of intra- and inter-network standards. For railways and companies
to arrive at a common position for the configuration of the European
rail system and thence to move forward in the creation of a single
market for rail services and products, there is an immediate need
for research that helps partners reconcile their national standards
within new European norms.
Strong and modern European standards can stimulate
innovation to generate new products and services for the operators
and infrastructure managers that can then be exported into the world
marketplace. Not only will this strengthen the position of European
manufacturers but it will also help lower costs and raise reliability
levels for all European railway operators.
Leading the way in rail interoperability research,
the European institutions have already supported standardisation
on the international high-speed routes and this initiative is now
being extended to conventional rail and mass transit. Within this
context, a number of important and interesting projects are already
being funded by the EU.
Electrical Systems Compatibility (ESC), i.e. the electrical compatibility
of rail vehicles with existing power supplies and signalling systems,
has become a costly issue for rail equipment manufacturers, rail
operators and infrastructure managers. In recent years, Europe has
seen large regional transportation networks collapse due to electrical
incompatibility. Electric vehicle interaction has caused protective
shutdowns and delays, signalling systems and barrier crossings have
malfunctioned, information and telecommunication systems have been
disturbed, and television and computer screens have been seen to
flicker, all due to a lack of electrical compatibility and interoperability
of components in electrical rail networks. These effects have led
to costly reconfigurations and delays for the manufacturing industry
and to a lower quality of service for railway operators.
Given the critical importance of ESC, the EU
has funded two projects in this area - 'ESCARV' and 'EMC measurements
project, initiated under Brite Euram III and successfully completed
in 2000, was aimed at developing a set of tools for reliably predicting
and avoiding electrical systems compatibility problems before putting
rail transport systems into operation. "We investigated compatibility
issues of rolling stock and power supplies," says coordinator
Stuart Shirran. "An important goal of the project was to establish
an open modelling framework for the complete transportation system,
including appropriate sub-system models, using special software.
This will enable us to reliably predict and avoid interoperability
The resulting modelling framework covered the
overall rail system as well as a number of sub-systems, including
both high and low voltage power supplies, and AC and DC vehicle-based
models. The sub-system models were validated during extensive field
tests on different rail networks. Finally, the overall system models
and selected guidelines were validated during extensive field tests
on different networks. The results and experiences of the ESCARV
project are now being adopted by a number of standardisation working
groups. In addition, an ESC InfoBank (see ESC UserGroup below),
including all of the main results of ESCARV, was put together and
is now up and running on the internet.
"We expect at least a 30% reduction in
costs for both suppliers and operators using our tools," says
Shirran. "Network outage will be reduced from 1 hour per year
to 0.5 hours per year, resulting in a per passenger benefit of €25
in terms of saved time and increased reliability of transportation
to work, not to mention the increase in rail transport safety."
Furthermore, Europe will accrue a competitive advantage over overseas
One barrier to European railway interoperability
still remains, according to project partners. While the railway
business must function efficiently in market terms, clear boundaries
still need to be set in terms of the roles and responsibilities
of each of the railway players.
ESCARV partners comprised a cross-disciplinary,
multi-national and multi-company team, including component suppliers,
railway operators, and members of the academic and industrial research
communities. According to Shirran, "The help of the European
Commission was very important in getting the partners together,
especially the international companies which would normally be considered
ESC UserGroup is a forum for the exchange and enhancement of knowledge
in the domain of Electrical Systems Compatibility (ESC) of railways,
based on the results of a number of European projects, in particular
ESCARV. It provides organisational and managerial support and a
tool for the exchange of information, experience and best practice,
namely the ESC
InfoBank , a relational database created by the ESCARV project,
accessible via the Internet.
The network or UserGroup includes standardisation
bodies and the regulatory organisations responsible for interoperability
specifications, but is open to all organisations and experts active
in the field of European railway and electrical systems compatibility,
including manufacturers of rolling stock, traction power supply
and railway signalling equipment, railway operators, rail infrastructure
operators, consultants, research institutes and universities. Membership
is determined on a 'give and take' basis with each member being
expected to contribute relevant knowledge to the database.
During the two-year start-up period (07/2001
to 06/2003), the activities and services of the ESC UserGroup are
being jointly financed by the European Commission and the Swiss
Government . A consortium of four contractors is organising
networking events and maintains and updates the ESC InfoBank. In
addition to promoting and disseminating results of recent European
research projects in this field, the ESC UserGroup will also establish
a strategy and a working framework for achieving ambitious performance
and safety objectives through the cooperation of all relevant parties.
For more information, see the ESC UserGroup
(European Association for Railway Interoperability) , is the
joint representative body mandated by the European Commission to
lay down the Technical Standards for Interoperability (TSIs), as
required by European Directive 96/48 covering Interoperability of
the trans-European high-speed railway system. In addition, AEIF
has also been entrusted with the task of setting up the TSIs for
conventional rail according to the approved Directive on Interoperability
of Conventional Rail. Finally, AEIF is playing a key role in the
ERRAC action. Bringing together representatives of infrastructure
managers, railway companies and industry, AEIF was co-founded by
UIC , UNIFE
and UITP and
is supported by the European Commission.
AEIF is one of the four main contractors of
the ESC UserGroup project.
accurate quantification of electromagnetic interference (EMI) between
electric railway traction power supplies, motors and signalling
systems is necessary to ensure satisfactory systems integration
and to prevent interference which can lead to safety and reliability
problems. Much of the work aimed at addressing EMC issues can be
carried out through appropriate modelling and simulation activities,
as in the ESCARV project. But while laboratory work is convenient
from an economical and technical point of view, the results still
have to be validated in the field through direct measurements.
The objective of the 'EMC measurements in railways'
project was to provide a set of measurement and testing methodologies
for railway rolling stock and its components based on a specially
designed anechoic chamber and vehicle test room.
The specific technical objectives achieved by
the project included the definition of new procedures and guidelines
for testing rolling stock components in an anechoic chamber and
for testing locomotives in a vehicle test room. A field measurement
campaign validated and fine-tuned the above procedures.
The definition of the above procedures represents
a considerable contribution toward the goal of establishing common
European rail standards. Partners included three manufacturers of
traction equipment, and one university with expertise in traction
key element in the harmonisation of European rail systems is the
standardisation of the driver's workplace. The driver's desk represents
a human-machine interface and is therefore of extreme importance
with respect to train safety. The European Driver's Desk (EUDD)
project is developing a modular train driver's desk capable of operating
across the EU, based on work provided by a number of important rail
"The idea," says project coordinator
Thomas Meissner at Germany's FAV
, "is to develop a more reliable, less expensive and, above
all, a standardised driver's desk, including universal gauges, displays
and operating procedures. We already know about the importance of
removing obstacles to good rail traffic in Europe. Our new system
will be at the core of a future modular train for use throughout
the EU and accession countries and is therefore an important part
of that process."
EUDD partners expect the new system will mean
increased flexibility and mobility for train operators, improved
working conditions, reduced errors and accidents, and lower training
"The international aspect of this project
has been very important," says Meissner. "Seeing the main
players coming together and working on a common goal has been very
Research towards the development of standardised
European railway applications, procedures and products is supported
under the Growth Programme's 'Land
transport and marine technologies' key action.
- Electrical systems compatibility for advanced railway vehicles
AEIF - European
association for railway interoperability;
measurements in railways (SMT4962126);
- European driver's desk (G3RD-2000-00457).