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Electromagnetic Compatibility between Rolling Stock and Rail-infrastructure encouraging European Interoperability

The RAILCOM project is focusing on electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) solutions in relation to railway interoperability. It aims at the harmonisation of interference limits for train detection and the characterisation of the railway electromagnetic environment for communication systems.

Tags: Rail


Although RAILCOM research will be focusing on practical problems regarding the vehicle/infrastructure interface on the TEN-T railway network, it will use the results and information collected during previous EC co-funded research projects in the specific field of rail EMC carried out in the Fourth and Fifth Framework Programmes. In comparison with all these projects, RAILCOM is aiming at achieving harmonisation of interference limits necessary for a sustainable improvement of production techniques for electrical installations of railway vehicles.

One important part of this work will also be to fill the gap that exists between the expertise available in other transport areas (aeronautics, automotive) and the knowledge and best practise applied to rail systems.

One major distinctive difference between railways and other transport/industrial systems is that the whole power involved in railways has the potential for EMC disturbance and the extension of the system favours the propagation of disturbances in the environment. Moreover, the interaction between the disturbance sources and the system can amplify the interference, as a function of the specific operating conditions.


The objectives of the project are:

  • to harmonise the interference limits for train detection systems on the TEN-T railway network
  • to characterise the railway electromagnetic (EM) environment for communication systems, with correlation between EM emission and operating conditions of the system.

Train detection systems

According to EN 50238, the railway infrastructure managers shall define the interference limits to be met by the trains.

The scope of the work covers the lower end of the frequency scale, from DC to a maximum of 100 kHz. This corresponds to the frequency range of 99% of all train detection systems currently in use, i.e. track circuits, axle counter sensors and loops.

The project will provide a toolbox of fully validated methods for the characterisation of train detection systems, and for the assessment of compatibility between rolling stock and train detection systems.

Communication systems

The objective is to achieve a comprehensive characterisation of the electromagnetic environment of the railway system, according to the significant operating conditions of the system itself, including sources of interference (vehicles, substations, lines, auxiliary equipment) in order to determine the susceptibility levels of the communication systems to electromagnetic interference, to guarantee the safety of the messages and the transmission of the information in a delay that, for example, respects the ERTMS and Euroradio requirements.

Important input to standards like EN50121-2, EN50121-4 and EN50159-1 is envisaged as a part of the dissemination activity through the partners participating in the respective working groups.

Movares Nederland BV

Description of work

The research activity, including modelling and measurements, will be focused on train detection and communication systems. Harmonised calculation methods will be identified and validated through appropriate test campaigns. Strong efforts will be made to favour harmonisation of interference limits and methods to determine the limits of train detection systems, overcoming the barriers imposed by national regulations and practice. The EM of the railway systems will be related to their operating conditions, in order to faciliatate the forecasting of electromagnetic emissions based on the systems' characteristics and to assess interference with the communication systems.

Compatibility between vehicles and train detection systems

The main objective of this work is to provide a set of fully validated characteristics and technically sound testing methods and approaches to achieve and demonstrate electromagnetic compatibility between vehicles and track circuits for future interoperable lines.

The specification, models and methods shall aim to become generally accepted and recommended tools for the design and acceptance processes defined in the relevant European Standards and TSIs.

High frequency interference of the whole railway (especially of communication systems between trains and infrastructure)

This work aims to improve the capacity of the whole railway, especially that of communication systems and the safety of the message transmissions between train and infrastructure using new telecommunication technologies. The work will consist of developing experimental and numerical characterisation methods to determine EMC specifications, to protect the safety of the message transmissions and improve the capacity of the communication systems by taking into account rail interoperability.


The results of the project are expected to comprise of:

  • harmonised methods defining interference limits for train detection systems on the TEN-T lines
  • relationships between the EM fields in the railway environment and the operating conditions of the system with particular reference to communication systems.

The benefits of the project will include:

  • significant technical/scientific innovation in the modelling/calculation techniques
  • contribution to the improved global approach to railway systems through the improvement of interoperability between various railway infrastructure components
  • important economical impact on the demonstration of vehicle compliance
  • improved competitiveness of the European railway industry
  • improvement of compliance within the environmental constraints.

Movares Nederland BV