Innovative technologies for safety and security of railway vehicles

Funding Programme Ministry of Instruction, University and Research - PON Ricerca e Competitivit√† 2007-2013

Coordinator  Ansaldo STS (I)

Partners  Ansaldo STS (I); Circumvesuviana (I); Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (I);Selex Communications (I); Intecs (I); SymaconTech (I); Strago (I); TecnoSistem (I); 3F&EDIN (I); TRS (I); Universit√† degli Studi del Sannio (I); Universit√† degli Studi Federico II di Napoli (I); TEST (I); TRAIN (I); Contact (I); Softeco (I)


  1. A continuous increase of the parameters that characterize the degree of vehicles and infrastructure use have happened in recent decades:

    • daily number of runs;

    • axle load;

    • length and speed of trains.

    This corresponds to an increase in stress resulting in a more intense use and, ultimately, an increased rate of evolution of the degradation of rolling stock and infrastructures. Particular attention is due to those types of deterioration that can leads to creating conditions for potential danger to rail traffic and finally to more numerous and complex verification actions, performed by the operation staff of the national, regional and suburban /urban railway systems. So the undeniable need to maintain the highest levels, the security of these systems, pushes operators and infrastructure managers to increase inspective activities, which leads to increased costs and decreased availability of the transport systems.

    In recent years, especially for the long distance transport systems, automatic diagnostic systems installed on specialized rolling stock were introduced in the European market. These solutions require large investments and are difficult to implement, especially from local operators. Furthermore, the increase in traffic, as above mentioned, results in a corresponding increase in "runs" of such diagnostic systems and thus an increasing of operating costs.

    Finally, the rail market points a growing demand of monitoring solutions for running vehicles and infrastructures aimed at preventing rail safety threats , requiring modest investment and maximizing management efficiency.

    SICURFER intends to meet these needs by studying new diagnostic units (UD) to be installed on ground or on board, as needed. The former, are not addressed to extended infrastructures but concentrated ones (e.g. switches, bridges) in order to perform a continuous monitoring over time of functional parameters and degradation, while the latter will monitor extended structures (such as rails, signalling) and provide a continuous monitoring in space but require a high frequency of "runs" with high operating costs to maintain a sufficiently frequent monitoring. This project aims at increasing the number of runs studying UD installed on common vehicles in operation, so no specialised rolling stock should be required.

    The UD will be equipped with sensors, acquisition and data processing systems and will be able to send to a supervision diagnostic Center, merely aggregated information, such as alerts, warnings and alarms. The center will be equipped with a supervision module able to provide to operation and maintenance operators a schematic overall view about the state of the controlled system, graphically highlighting the proximity of events, potentially threatening safety and security. Based on this information, we will proceed to select of intervention strategies on infrastructures more effectively and efficiently through a decision support system, and vehicle fleets of will be monitored in order to identify critical characteristics of a of a vehicle category.

    From a technological point of view, we will resort to the introduction of innovative technologies for rail transportation systems, typically conservative in that area in order to keep as high as possible safety levels. For this reason the project will provide at early stage the definition of guidelines for validation and, ultimately, for the certification of UDs. We currently plan to introduce technologies as FPGAs, MEMS and opto-electronic ones.

    The project requires the input of much know-how that at the end of the project is expected to be greatly increased. We will indeed have to start from the expertise held by the operators and maintainers of rail systems, experts in carrying out diagnostic units (requiring experience in both civil works and plants), experts of innovative technologies. The studied system will also need integration actions. This will define the technical systems to best meet the expectations of increased levels of safety.

    To this aim, we created a wide team of proposers, which bring a high level experience in national market and beyond. They were then involved major end-users (Circumvesuviana a Italian suburban railway and Rete Ferroviaria Italiana), a significant number of Small and Medium Enterprises, each of them with a strong and specific expertise, and some research organizations capable of ensuring a considerable step to the current state of the art of the field of rail transport sector. Ansaldo STS is the leader of this team and, in addition to the UDs that are more directly related to its plant-design experience, will play the role of "system integrator", thus leading a supply chain including several companies.

    The objectives set, the technologies made available and the ability to offer systems in the international market, are considered to ensure to the project team a successful achievement of the planned objectives and, subsequently, to move to the stage of industrialization needed to compete in the transport market rail.

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