The Train Control and Monitoring System (TCMS) is the brain and the communications backbone of the train, which has some essential roles on vehicle performance. It integrates and manages all on-board information; it makes train control decisions taking into account the global state of subsystems; it performs communication between equipment, between cars and between vehicles; and it integrates and interacts between different subsystems of the train.
Successful integration of subsystems and the commissioning of TCMS require huge efforts and take an extremely long time due to the lack of standardised application profiles, appropriate architectures and simulation and testing frameworks. The increasing number of new services and applications brings several modifications of the TCMS implemented functions along the train’s life, implying re-commissioning the TCMS every time. The current standard in TCMS homologation is largely based on Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) based on the TCMS architecture and extensive testing on laboratory setups as well as on the real train. Testing on the train, in particular, requires a great effort and takes lots of time – often delaying the start of service operation for entire fleets significantly. This situation can be significantly improved also by developing a homologation process based on simulation.
Innovation and development of TCMS have been identified as a potential enabler for train weight reduction and increase in reliability1. The integration of functions may reduce weight due to the reduced amount of wires and controllers of each component. A wireless coupling would increase reliability by eliminating electrical system errors. Therefore, a complete new TCMS architecture, mixing wired and wireless communications, enhanced interoperability, and “driven-by-data” concept, is needed. In order to achieve this goal, the future work in TCMS needs to include the definition of new protocols and application profiles, software framework supporting reallocation of functions, the definition and validation of the wireless technology, the definition, design and manufacturing of new devices (routers, repeaters, sensors, end-devices, gateways...) while taking into account safety and security aspects, which may imply the design or use of specific encryption hardware. Both, the virtual coupling together with the functional open coupling concepts, will mean the complete interoperability from the TCMS perspective, while paving the way for a new way of operating trains by creating chains of virtually coupled trains, which can be attached and detached dynamically according to the service needs and available slots.
In that sense, the Shift2Rail project CONNECTA-1 (GA 730539), which started on 1st September 2016 and ended on 30th September 2018, has started to develop the aforementioned technical solutions by producing a comprehensive set of specifications and architectures, and by selecting appropriate technologies. The results and outputs of CONNECTA-1 with a TRL 3/4 were carried on by CONNECTA-2 (826098), which started the 1st October 2018 and will end the 31st March 2021, providing prototypes with a TRL 4/5.
The high level objective of the work is to continue the activities started in CONNECTA-2 to bring the technologies to TRL6/7 and deploying them in relevant laboratory scenarios and real train units.
Such activities aim to:
Develop the ability to implement SIL4 functions in the TCMS to perform additional safety-critical tasks, removing safe train lines and integrating signalling equipment;
Increase in the availability of trains related to the functioning of train control and monitoring by 50%;
Develop the ability to couple any pair of multiple units of different types, which is a feature totally non-existent and can significantly increase line capacity;
Support technologically the development of the “virtual coupling” concept, which can dramatically increase the capacity of lines, and;
Reduce cost, time and effort in project engineering, integration and homologation phases by 50%.