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    RMR Newsletter April 2024
    Unlocking Innovation and Accessibility: Updates from the German Railway Market ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏  ͏ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­  

    April 2024

    Dear reader,

    The German railway market is facing an exciting phase in which innovation and sustainability are key issues. While traditional rail transport systems are being further developed, the Hyperloop is gaining momentum as a potential means of transport for the future. These high-speed transport systems could revolutionise the way we travel between major cities and set new standards in terms of efficiency and speed. In a new research project, the German Centre for Rail Research aims to determine the state of development of the technology. 

    At the same time, it is crucial that mobility solutions are accessible to all, including people with physical disabilities. Accessibility to trains is an important aspect that is often neglected. People with reduced mobility need self-applicable solutions to enable them to board trains. The German Centre for Rail Research is also conducting research in this area. 
    You can read more about the two projects in our newsletter.

    Enjoy reading and see you next month!

    Research Projects

    Current development status of Hyperloop concept

    The Hyperloop concept, designed for high-speed passenger and freight transportation, has garnered global attention, leading to increased research and development (R&D) efforts worldwide. These endeavors aim to validate the feasibility of the concept through practical testing. Notably, the proposal for a regulation on the trans-European transport network (TEN-T 2021/0420) acknowledges Hyperloop as an innovative mode of transport deserving support.

    Recent years have witnessed a surge in R&D activities in the Hyperloop domain, with the construction of test tracks and successful test runs marking significant milestones. Germany, among other countries, is actively engaged in Hyperloop development and receives public funding to support these initiatives. Consequently, it is foreseeable that Hyperloop will become a topic of heightened political discourse in the future, as policymakers seek to capitalize on its potential benefits.

    Against this backdrop, there is a pressing need for objective assessments of the current state of Hyperloop development. Such evaluations can furnish policymakers with an unbiased information base and pinpoint areas where further research is required. Ultimately, political decisions stand to gain from a thorough understanding of the progress and challenges associated with the Hyperloop concept. Therefore, the overarching goal of the research project is to furnish an impartial appraisal of the Hyperloop's current development status, aiming to provide objective insights and identify knowledge gaps.

    The project is scheduled to last around 18 months and start in the third quarter of 2024. 

    Independent operability of on-board boarding aids

    Height differentials between the platform and the vehicle entrance pose challenges for accessing rail vehicles, particularly for individuals with disabilities or reduced mobility, such as wheelchair users.

    On-board boarding assistance mechanisms can mitigate these discrepancies. However, passengers typically cannot operate these systems independently. This limited independent accessibility contradicts the principle of maximizing personal mobility independence outlined in Article 20 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Consequently, the accessibility standards mandated by the German Basic Law and the UN CRPD are not fully met currently.

    Prior to the widespread implementation of independently operable on-board boarding aids, there is a pressing need for harmonization of system requirements.

    The project is scheduled to last around 18 months and start in the third quarter of 2024. 

    Research Results Published

    Optimisation Tool for Multi-functional Design Solutions

    "Description: Multifunctional designs can optimise the overall vehicle system, including its subsystems, by incorporating all functional requirements from the outset. However, especially at the beginning of the design process, when design freedom is high and system understanding is low, this can be challenging. The Topology Optimisation of Binary Structures (TOBS), which was previously introduced as a solution in the Shift2Rail project, PIVOT2, is extended in this deliverable by a Mixed Integer Linear Programming (MILP) formulation. This allows simultaneous optimisation of the core topology and face sheet thickness without the need for detailed knowledge about the latter in advance. In the deliverable, this extension is first presented and demonstrated using a sandwich sample beam problem. This includes the solution of the mass minimisation problem, given constraints in static and dynamic compliance, and complemented by the face sheet thickness as an additional design variable. In addition, the Life-Cycle Energy (LCE) is minimised being subject to constraints on static compliance. Overall, it is shown that the extended method can be used to find low-mass solutions that fulfil the constraints.

    Target audience: Rail Infrastructure Stakeholders

    How it brings us closer to achieving better rail for Europe: The rolling stock plays a decisive role in the attractiveness of the railway and its competitiveness across all modes of transport. In the future, innovative car body design solutions will therefore be needed to make railways not only more performance-capable but also more comfortable and efficient. Sandwich structures guarantee high stiffness and low weight and are therefore being used more and more in the railway industry. This deliverable makes an important contribution to the future applicability of sandwich structures in the face of different materials with diverging properties by investigating another critical structural component. In this way, not only a significant weight reduction can be achieved, but also a reduction in the total energy consumed over the lifetime of a railway."

    Assembly and Testing of the Carbody End Module Demonstrator

    Description: To make the next generation of passenger trains a reality, PIVOT2 brings innovations in car body shells to a readiness level of 4, referring to technical demonstrators validated in the laboratory. One of the partners in the project was commissioned with the development of a complete car body end module of an intermediate vehicle. A high-loaded structure in an intermediate and an end car was developed, considering a variety of requirements to favour later acceptance by various stakeholders. This was followed by a technical approach combining Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) parts, Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) parts, GFRP/aluminium sandwich parts, and a coupler bracket of high-strength steel. This deliverable describes the tests carried out on both demonstrators, based on the previously manufactured subassemblies, as well as their results. It first introduces the base vehicle and gives an overview of the developed car body end module. It also contains the description of the structure and results of the finite element calculations, as well as the steps to produce the demonstrators. Finally, all tests are specified, and their results are presented.

    Target audience: Rail Infrastructure Stakeholders

    How it brings us closer to achieving better rail for Europe: To be competitive, railways must not only be comfortable, affordable, and reliable, but also meet the requirements of railway undertakings, urban operators, and regulators. Already today, lighter, and therefore more energy- and cost-efficient trains with high operational reliability are needed. This in turn requires substantial technological innovations. This deliverable makes a further contribution to the fulfillment of this task by presenting the implementation and demanding testing of car body shell innovations. Ultimately, a weight reduction of approx. 20 % was achieved with the help of the demonstrators. By using hybrid structures with lighter materials, it is possible to reduce energy consumption and thus the life cycle costs of the entire railway system. Additional functionalities can also be considered on the service side, thereby increasing the competitive advantages of the railway."

    Technical Demonstrators of Health Monitoring Systems

    "Description: Following the development and analysis of high-performance running gears using lightweight materials in the previous project, PIVOT2 is going even further by manufacturing and testing technical demonstrators (TDs). One of the main development streams hereby is the development of Health Monitoring Systems (HMS) for the Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) of running gears. This deliverable presents all the demonstrators developed by the partners involved. They comprise hardware developments for CBM systems, including wired and wireless solutions, but also new algorithms for depicting the running gear status on-board and wayside-based, as well as human machine interfaces and developments for analysing the health status of key elements. For each demonstrator, a case-specific description is provided before the results are presented and the significance for the Shift2Rail objectives are explained.

    Target audience: Rail Infrastructure Stakeholders

    How it brings us closer to achieving better rail for Europe: The mobility of the future will depend on the railway as a reliable, affordable, and safe means of transport. To offer this, a rethink in rail product development must take place. Innovative solutions are needed in the key technological areas, including the running gear. The deliverable summarises several such innovations that support the introduction of CBM. The sensor architecture and hardware components developed make maintenance more flexible. The physics-guided machine learning algorithms for intelligent vehicle running instability detection developed and the wayside detection system for analysing wheel defects reduce maintenance costs and lower the failure rate in running gear suspension components. The same applies to the bogie components diagnostics solution developed, which reduces unplanned maintenance, increases its predictability, and replaces visual inspections. Data platforms also enable more frequent and detailed analysis of continuous variables, and the train-borne ultrasonic-based sensor solution can detect grease in the wheel flange and thus identify problems as they occur. The combination of these solutions has the potential to increase railway safety and reduce costs significantly in the long term."


    Landmark event on the future of European rail freight boosts commitment for DAC

    During the Connecting Europe Days, held under the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the European DAC Delivery Programme, facilitated by Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking, orchestrated the 'The Future of Rail Freight – see how it works in the 21st century!' event on 2 April in Brussels, Belgium. The event showcased strong backing for the digitized and automated future of European rail freight through Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC).

    Keynote addresses were delivered by notable figures including Georges Gilkinet, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium and Minister of Transport; Volker Wissing, German Federal Minister for Digital and Transport; Kaspars Briškens, Latvian Minister of Transport; and Magda Kopczyńska, Director General for Mobility and Transport, European Commission.

    Distinguished sector and government representatives such as Peter Füglistaler, Director of the Swiss Federal Office of Transport; Sigrid Nikutta, Chair of Rail Freight Forward and CEO of DB Cargo; Paolo Pagliero, Group Vice President Technology of Wabtec; Mark Topal-Gökceli, CTO of ÖBB Holding AG and Manager of the European DAC Delivery Programme; and David Zindo, President of UIP and CEO of Streem Group, engaged in discussions covering DAC experiences, funding and financing, large-scale testing and deployment of DAC transformation projects, and future steps. Panelists underscored DAC as a unique opportunity for policymakers to propel rail freight into the 21st century, ensuring the long-term re-industrialization of Member States, and urged the Belgian Presidency to initiate the next steps towards DAC implementation.

    Georges Gilkinet contextualized DAC technology within ongoing European legal initiatives aimed at enhancing the position of rail freight and its role in bolstering resilience and capacity. Kaspars Briškens advocated for more ambitious investments in Europe's strategic transport infrastructure, identifying flagship cross-border project Rail Baltica as a prime candidate for DAC-only operation. Volker Wissing stressed the importance of making DAC a successful European project, while Magda Kopczyńska expressed confidence in finding gradual uptake and financing schemes to facilitate real-life DAC testing, highlighting the event's significance in making this vision a reality.

    Following the debate, a live demonstration showcased a DAC-equipped train, offering firsthand experience of rail automation's potential. Giorgio Travaini, Europe’s Rail Acting Executive Director, emphasized that the event not only highlighted DAC technology but also envisioned its implementation across Europe, aligning with the ambitious goals of the European Green Deal. He welcomed the emphasis on boosting rail freight in Europe in the Brussels Declaration resulting from the informal meeting of European Transport Ministers organized by the Belgian Federal Minister of Mobility.

    Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC), developed within Europe’s Rail research programme as a standard European solution, stands as a catalyst for modernizing rail freight. It represents more than just technological advancement but a fundamental shift in defining rail freight for the 21st century—enhancing capacity, flexibility, and Europe’s re-industrialization and competitiveness through sustainable transport solutions. DAC will facilitate a more reliable supply of goods across Europe, improve intermodal competitiveness of rail logistics, promote environmentally friendly transport modes, and serve as a key enabler for other technologies such as ETCS operations without trackside equipment and intelligent freight trains.

    Europe’s Rail awards seven grants for its Call for Proposals 2023

    The Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking (EU-Rail) 2023 Call for Proposals for rail research and innovation (R&I) activities will finance seven fresh projects valued at €21.2 million. EU-Rail's co-funding commitment totals €11.7 million. These initiatives aim to bolster Flagship Area 1, focusing on rail mobility management within a multimodal framework, while also amplifying exploratory research endeavors.

    Giorgio Travaini, Acting Executive Director at EU-Rail, emphasized the necessity of transcending the siloed modernization of transport modes to provide optimized, efficient, affordable, and comfortable solutions for European citizens and businesses. He highlighted a milestone collaboration where two Joint Undertakings (JUs) worked jointly and issued a synergy topic call, resulting in a selected proposal known for its predictability. This collaborative effort seeks to enhance integration between air and railway transport modes to improve journey predictability and punctuality, bolster resilience against disruptions, elevate passenger experience, and advance sustainability objectives through increased and optimized rail usage to and from airports.

    Furthermore, six additional projects will bolster EU-Rail's exploratory research activities, serving as essential precursors for future R&I endeavors. These projects will delve into various topics, including noise and vibration reduction, future metro systems, biodiversity preservation, innovative asset management solutions, expansion of PhD networks, and retrofitting and capacity planning for the DAC fleet.

    A total of 114 entities from 22 countries will spearhead the development of novel solutions under the 2023 Call for Proposals, contributing to ongoing Flagship and exploratory research initiatives and other related projects.

    Events in May

    Karlsruhe, Germany

    Critical Communications World

    Dubai, UAE

    Rail Solutions Asia

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    The Rise of IoT & Big Data in Rail

    Cologne, Germany

    The Magnetics Show North America

    Pasadena, US

    Smart Transportation Conference & Exhibition

    London, UK

    Intermodal Asia

    Shanghai, China

    Asia Pacific Rail

    Bangkok, Thailand

    Featured Research Projects

    We want to connect researchers and interested parties from industry and business and promote the exchange of research results.

    If you are currently working on an exciting research project and would like to present it to a wider audience, please send us an e-mail.

    Reach out now

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