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New rail driver's cab points way to future

The EU-funded 'EUDDplus' project has achieved new milestones on the way to the safer and more standardised rail transport driver's cab of the future.

EUDDplus at InnoTrans © Peter Crawley
EUDDplus at InnoTrans
© Peter Crawley

" EUDDplus marks the end of a period of nearly twelve years of intensive pre-competitive research and development work," explains Lutz Hübner of Germany's TSB Innovationsagentur. "The result is major progress towards a standardised European driver's desk, featuring a highly ergonomic functional arrangement."

Improving safety is a major priority behind the development of a new train driver’s desk. At the same time, equipment suppliers who currently must develop unique solutions for each customer will profit from ‘economies of scale’, wherein driver’s cabs are upgraded but most importantly standardised across Europe.

The EUDDplus consortium includes 17 partners from eight European countries, representing operators, rail transport manufacturers and service providers, as well as academic researchers. Partners say the broad international nature of the group reflects the level of interest in rail standardisation on the pan-European level.

"The intention is to produce a new European standard, defining general design rules for drivers cabs," says Hübner, "with the field of vision looking forward, including the positioning of any signals needing to be considered, as well as the assessment procedures for the basic layout and accessibility of equipment and operating elements."

Getting the message to users

A mock-up of the new driver's cab at the recent InnoTrans exhibition in Berlin included a realistic video presentation on a windscreen, simulating the view from a real cabin. "The contacts we made during InnoTrans regarding EUDDplus and also with regard to other European projects we are involved in were very positive," says Hübner. "Clearly this is a project that has the industry talking."

Based on the results of EUDDplus, along with previous EU projects 'EUDD' and 'MODTRAIN/EUCAB', the International Union of Railways ( UICexternal link) and the Union des Industries Ferroviaires Européennes ( UNIFEexternal link) have now published a joint 'Technical Recommendation for Driver Machine Interfaces'. "The results of EUDDplus are also having a very considerable impact on the activities of the competent working body, CEN/TC 256/WG 37, at the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN)," adds Hübner.

Many obstacles still stand in the way of European cross-border railway traffic, including a mixed bag of power supply systems, signalling, operational rules and, in some cases, different rail gauges. But European Commission officials believe EUDDplus and similar projects are moving the Union in the right direction, providing clear guidelines for the kind of interchangeable systems that will form the basis of the next generation of intercity trains and universal locomotives.