Technologies for Sustainable & Attractive European Rail Freight

IP Coordinator:Thomas Jaeger - Deutsche Bahn


Project title:
Automated Rail Cargo Consortium: Rail freight automation research activities to boost levels of quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness in all areas of rail freight operations

Total Project Value:
€ 3 600 360
from 01/09/2016 to 31/08/2019
S2R (H2020) co-funding:
€ 1 600 000,00
Norbert Kahl
Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG)
Complementary project:


The overall aim of this specific Automated Rail Cargo Consortium (ARCC) project is to carry out an initial phase of rail freight automation research activities in order to boost levels of quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness in rail freight operations of the European railway sector.

  • The three areas of research activities are: Transporting and delivering freight transport via automated trains;
  • Developing automated support processes that are carried out at the system’s nodes (e.g. terminals, yards and transhipment points);
  • Improving yard and railway network management through advanced timetable planning.

The various start-up activities for freight automation have the potential to help tackle the challenges relating to key issues and operational bottlenecks, which will help to reduce lead time, increase reliability and improve the cost-effectiveness of the rail freight sector. Improving the connections between different nodes (e.g. terminals, yards and transhipment points) and improving information flows transferred between different nodes in real-time and network management systems and supporting eco-efficient and energy-efficient driving are key parts of the project activities.

Project Structure

WP1 Automated train operation

Work package 1 Automated Train Operation (ATO) aims for a functional demonstrator of Automated Train Operation in a relevant rail cargo environment (TRL 5) in order to gather first practical experience with automated driving of freight trains. Concrete objectives of the tasks proposed in ARCC work package 1 are:
  • The definition of freight-specific use cases and operational requirements under GoA2+ including automated brake testing and safety-relevant fall-back Levels
  • The specification of required functionalities for automated driving under GoA 2+ including requirements for interoperability and on how to reach the most energy-efficient realization of the operational timetable
  • Development of the surround sensor module for integration in the rail freight demonstrator and interfacing of the sensor solutions with the testing locomotive for experimental proof of concept
  • The practical testing of relevant refit technology modules interfacing with a freight locomotive driven by an auto pilot protected by a train guard system
  • Research on interfaces between the individual modules to ensure interoperability and system compatibility 
  • Research on interfaces between the individual modules to ensure interoperability and system compatibility
  • The TRL5 demonstration of automated driving of a typically long and heavy freight train using pneumatic brake system of conventional freight wagons
  • The development of a ideas for a development phase 2 in order to optimize the tested ATO solution that leads to a supervised, punctual and low-energy driving style
  • Seeking synergies in the topic of obstacle detection with SMART project.

WP2 Real time yard management

The activities in WP2 will focus on the (single) wagon load and intermodal rail freight segment and on nodes (represented through marshalling yards and terminals), which are essential subsystems for the rail freight business.
The objectives and the tasks of WP2 fit with the description, given in chapter 5.5.3: TD 5.2 Access and operation of the Shift2Rail Multi Annual Action Plan and the related FR8RAIL and ARCC projects - taking into account the agreed budget.
This leads to the following list of detailed objectives for the start-up activities in this work package:
  • Acquiring a common understanding of operations and decision-making processes in the nodes;
  • Establishing stakeholder needs and restrictions for building up real-time systems, defining the target system for punctual fulfilment of the requirements for real-time scheduling, tracking and control to optimise yard operations;
  • Analysing best practices for using simulation and optimisation systems for the automation of decision processes and defining requirements for a real-time simulation system for yards;
  • Defining a demonstrator for Real-Time Yard Management in line with the advanced simulation approach which will be provided in the SMART project.

WP3 Improved methods for timetable management

The objectives of WP3 are:
  • To study the effects of faster and more flexible train paths for freight trains;
  • Better capacity utilisation and improved on-time performance;
  • Improvements at the practical level and in implementation.
  • The pre-study should develop a plan for the main work from 2018 until 2021.

WP4 Project Management

WP5 Dissemination & Communication




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Norbert Kahl

Project Coordinator

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No: 730813