From 17 – 18 March 2019, the Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology of Austria, the European GNSS Agency, Shift2rail, and the European Union Agency for Railways, organised a two-day event bringing together the main railway stakeholders, the supply industry, and user communities.
UIC was invited to introduce the state-of-the-art, especially its long history of addressing the GNSS application on railways and its worldwide experience, together with its members.
The aim of the event was to share the vision and roadmap of space technologies for the future of railways in Europe, their role in innovation and digitalisation, with a special focus on progress and implementation of GNSS for rail.
UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux was invited to give a keynote speech and to open the debate on GNSS application for rails (safety and non-safety) related to the balance between the economic and safety point of view.
He mentioned a number of facts showing the involvement of UIC, as a pioneer of GNSS:
- UIC has been involved in the development of satellite applications for railways for at least 20 years
- UIC is a pioneer in the definition of technical specifications for using positioning satellite applications-GNSS (safety and non-safety) for railways
- Finding solutions for an economic sustainability of the lines with medium / low traffic, represents an increasingly difficult challenge especially when looking at the speed of evolution of transport alternatives to the railroad
The relevant categories of GNSS application areas in the railways where UIC was involved:
- Signalling and train control
- Train operations (traffic planning and operation, traffic control, traffic management, formation and splitting of trains, routing of trains)
- Track construction, survey and maintenance
- Fleet management, tracking & tracing
- Cadaster and civil engineering
- Asset management
All of these with the applicability of the rail EN 50126 standard: Railway Applications – the Specification and Demonstration of Reliability, Availability, Mlaintainability and Safety (RAMS) (certification of safety critical software).
This standard is a need for the safety applications (derived from the aviation standards) together with TSI Control-Command and Signalling Subsystem.
Today we can show different achievements for the rail safe application developed by UIC or by our members across the world:
- Different solutions deployed by our members in Europe: SATLOC – in Romania, a project developed under the umbrella of the EU FP7 Research Programme, ERSAT in Sardinia as another technical solution. All these projects developed for the low traffic lines, which, across the world, represent about 42% of the total railway infrastructure
- In the USA, Positive Train Control (PTC) an integrated solution
- Traffic Management in Russia’s Sochi area or specific applications for dedicated freight lines, on heavy haul, in Australia
- China conducts significant research in this area
Non safety applications using GNSS cover a large area of rail sectors from passenger traffic offering facilities for users, in freight (tracing of wagons and goods), in the maintenance domain, track machinery and asset management.
The results of different deliverables of these projects, supported by our members have put the basis of innovation in GNSS domain, as the “Virtual Balise” which will pave the way to ETCS Level 3.
By working on innovation using technological advances such as GNSS, we can make much more of the potential capacity of our rail network and the combined opportunity to provide modern services to the customer and efficient trade.
He said: “I am sure that with the support of all parties – regulators, infrastructure managers, RUs, the supply industry, GNSS service providers, involved in innovation on GNSS – and fruitful cooperation – we will be able to achieve the goals we have set, such as an even safer railway system, a system that in the future more efficiently and at lower cost will serve us as the backbone of our transport system."