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‘MODTRAIN’ delivers final results

Participants in the EU-funded MODTRAIN project presented their results at a final conference in Paris on 2 April 2008. The event was attended by over 100 people, including representatives of the research community, the rail manufacturing industry, transport operators and the European Commission.

MODTRAIN final conference in Paris

“This is a prime example of what can be achieved when Europeans work together,” said the Commission’s Frédéric Sgarbi. “The MODTRAIN project has delivered new definitions for common open rail vehicle architectures, components and interfaces, all crucial developments as we move towards full rail transport interoperability.”

MODTRAIN’s goal has been to describe the necessary functional, electrical and mechanical interfaces and validation procedures for a new range of interchangeable modules, forming the basis of the next generation of intercity trains and universal locomotives. Project participants now say that goal has largely been met.

Fundamental MODTRAIN concepts included:

  • Modularity in system design
  • Interoperability of key modules
  • Interchangeability of components
  • Reducing total life cycle costs

Full programme

At the final conference in Paris, MODTRAIN researchers presented the achievements of the four sub-projects:

  • MODPOWER – Optimising and harmonising onboard power supply systems
  • MODBOGIE – Standardisation of bogie components
  • MODCONTROL – Train functions and sub-system interfaces
  • MODLINK – Train-human interface, including both drivers and passengers

Presentations were followed by a workshop where participants got an up-close look at some of the results, including a new driver control panel.

Eric Fontanel
Eric Fontanel

“Our success has been due to the deep involvement and great enthusiasm of our subproject leaders,” said MODTRAIN head Eric Fontanel of UNIFE. “We put together a fantastic team of engineers and researchers, and of course none of it could have happened without the strong support of the European Commission.”

Among the unanticipated results, said Fontanel, were a range of new computer tools developed especially for the project and now applicable to work in the similar fields.

Reaching further

Another very important development that went beyond initial expectations was the creation of new working relationships between academia, the rail industry and operators, a point made both by Fontanel and UIC PTR Chairman Joachim Mayer of DB.

“There were many doubters when this project was first proposed, but today we are delivering real results,” said Mayer, “and we have also created a new culture. This new spirit of co-operation among manufacturers, represented by UNIFE, and operators, like DB, will make the entire rail sector more efficient and more competitive.”

Joachim Mayer
Joachim Mayer

Sgarbi also cited MODTRAIN as the inspiration for a complete range of new EU-funded projects. “Your excellent results have led to a new group of European projects, the ‘mod-family’ projects.” These are projects aimed at promoting the same goals of modularity, interchangeability and interoperability in other transport-related areas.

“The Commission takes the view that systems should be the level of focus,” said Sgarbi. “We must take a more holistic approach to interoperability, not just in terms of rail transport but including all transport modes. We believe that work like that carried out by MODTRAIN will ultimately mean a more balanced distribution of traffic across modes, better service for travelers and a stronger industrial base to build our economy.”