New system to support rail operations and information exchange in logistics nodes

Italian state railways have designed and constructed a new information and communication technology platform with EU funding. The platform aims to boost the efficiency of rail shunting operations and management of related information within complex logistics nodes.

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Monitoring of rail operations using PIL 3.0 technology © Vincenzo Lo Curto Monitoring of rail operations using PIL 3.0 technology © Vincenzo Lo Curto

" This initiative contributes to enhancing the capacity of the railway nodes themselves and to improving shunting processes through the provision of highly innovative IT services. "

Maurizio Levi, Director of the Information and Communication Technology Directorate, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana

The project involved creation of the Integrated Logistics Platform 3.0 (PIL 3.0). Its principal focus is on improving information flows between container terminals, railways and marshalling yards.

PIL 3.0’s main functions include real-time monitoring of train movements, and provision of information on coupling of wagons to trains, status of rolling stock and other significant events. It also facilitates the preparation of orders and their submission from one operator to another. It also moves from physical to electronic documentation of shunting operations.

Building on work under previous projects

PIL 3.0 builds on architecture developed under the PIL 1.0 and PIL 2.0 projects. The former focused on improving information exchange between state railway bodies involved in processes linking rail and road transport, while the latter was designed to support railway freight operations at container terminals.

The platform was first put into service at the Bari Lamasinata railway yard in the region of Apulia, southern Italy. Its application was subsequently extended to cover other nodes within Italy’s railway network. A total of 5 900 man-days were spent on the project.

The computerisation of a complex and multi-faceted process that encompasses many different actors was the most important challenge that the project had to face. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that the actors involved were accustomed to working methods based on communications via telephone and radio and paper documents. This process had been ingrained over long periods and were thus difficult to replace.

The effective implementation of this transition was one of the main achievements of the project. Fully computerised management reduces the need to fill out documents by hand and the resulting risk of errors. Digitalisation also ensures rapid information exchange between relevant parties.

Simpler and faster operations at marshalling yards

As a result of the work, marshalling yards can carry out day-to-day operations in a simple and fast way, and staff can oversee tasks while on the move thanks to wider introduction of handheld devices. In addition, logistics centres have a real-time overview of ongoing jobs at all times.

The platform allows for full integration with the systems of other partners in the logistics chain, including railway companies, container terminal operators and infrastructure managers, in order to further advance the computerisation of shunting. By making processes smoother and easier to track and verify, PIL 3.0 generates information to help the Italian state railways to carry out analysis with which to support decision making

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Integrated Logistics Platform - 3.0” is EUR 3 203 142, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 2 402 357 through the “Networks and Mobility” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

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