When certifying a rail vehicle according to European regulation two elements constitute a significant challenge: vehicle cost and time-to-market. A large part of vehicle certification mandates testing for safety, performance and infrastructure compatibility in each individual Member State. Hence the certification process can take up to 30 months and cost several million Euros, imposing a huge competitive disadvantage on rail products against road and air transport.
The TrioTRAIN cluster of integrated research projects, within a consortium of 30 partners – railway manufacturers and undertakings, infrastructure managers and universities – is tackling this challenge of partially replacing testing by simulation and proposing a simplification of the authorisation processes through an optimised mix of field testing, mock-up testing and numerical simulation. The project, coordinated by UNIFE - the European rail industry - has a total budget of €13m and is partially funded by the European Commission in the 7th Framework Programme. The most relevant issues for rail vehicle certification will be addressed in three different projects; respectively, vehicle dynamics (DynoTRAIN), pantograph-catenary interaction (PantoTRAIN) and vehicle aerodynamics (AeroTRAIN).
In the past decade, the need for new and reliable cross-border rail passenger and freight traffic has become ever more pressing, and failure to produce a truly interoperable European rail network is taking its toll. Some technical solutions have been developed and implemented by the European rail industry, although the gap between interoperable and non-interoperable rail vehicles remains significant in terms of manufacturing and certification costs. The European Commission has taken a huge step by adopting two main directives and the derived Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI) which represent the basis of the common European railway regulation: the safety directive (Directive 2004/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on safety on the Community’s railways) and the interoperability directive (Directive 2008/57/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the interoperability of the rail system within the Community, recast from the 96/48/EC Directive). However, there still are still “open points” in these TSI due to a lack of common understanding for key technical railway issues.
The TrioTRAIN project seeks to develop competitive rail solutions by implementing drastic reduction of the certification cost and time. The focus will be on the three main interfaces of the Rolling Stock with its immediate environment. The aim is to reduce the cost and time currently spent for the certification tests by 80%. Thanks to the development of numerical simulation and hardware-in-the-loop testing, a standard of certification processing will be derived that guarantees the conformity and reliable cross-acceptance of the tested vehicle. Here are two exemplary results that can be expected from TrioTRAIN :
In the PantoTRAIN project, a process to extend an already certified pantograph to different catenary systems (namely catenary systems from other countries) by numerical simulation will be developed, thus avoiding additional tests for certification in others countries.
In the AeroTRAIN project, the development of a transfer function for the Slip Stream Effect measurement will allow to extrapolate results from track side tests to platform tests, thus avoiding all platform tests, which have currently to be performed for each platform height in each EU Member State.
TrioTRAIN projects will have a tremendous impact on European standards. By proposing solutions to close several technical loopholes in the legislative framework, (the so-called “opent points in the TSI), a common understanding regarding the relevant parameters and their sensitivity levels can be reached across the European Union. A dedicated Advisory Council has been appointed to ensure the project outcomes will fit the standards and regulatory framework, in which delegates from the European standards bodies, European Railway Agency and National Safety Authorities will be unified.
Completion of the TrioTRAIN projects is expected by June 2012 for AeroTRAIN and PantoTRAIN and by June 2013 for DynoTRAIN.