Currently European Train Control System (ETCS) rollout is a major concern for train manufacturers and railway infrastructure managers. Equipment for ETCS level 1 and 2 typically follows a long process before being put into service due to two main reasons. First, there are interpretation variations in the specification of the systems' behaviour. And second, available laboratory certification procedures do not completely address all the needs of the system and require long and expensive field-testing. On the other hand, migration from ETCS level 2 to level 3, which maximizes the railway efficiency, has not been yet foreseen due to the technical constraints that current GNSS solutions, based on GPS and EGNOS, can not overcome.
The objective of EATS is to address the aforementioned problems:
- Interpretation variations in the specification of the systems' behaviour and available laboratory certification procedures which do not completely address all the needs of the system and require long and expensive field-testing.
- The not foreseen, due to technical constraints, migration from ETCS level 2 to level 3, which maximizes the railway efficiency.
Regarding the first objective, EATS will progress beyond the state of the art providing a model of the complete on-board ERTMS system behaviour to eliminate interpretation differences, and will include in the laboratory new tools to include the dynamic behaviour of the wireless interfaces and fault injection techniques in the external and internal interfaces for the safety assessment. This will lead to reduced laboratory and field-testing certification process time and cost. In the current economic situation, this is crucial in order to keep the ETCS deployment speed.
Regarding the second objective, EATS will focus on the specific problem that is limiting the migration from ETCS level 2 to level 3. That is to say, EATS will propose a novel positioning system based on the combination of different techniques proved useful for other industrial sectors (multi-antenna assembly to reduce multi-path effects, combination of information sources such as GNSS, UMTS and GSM-R). Additionally, EATS will exploit unique features of the railway (1D problem) and the train (several receivers with known spatial separation to provide weighted positioning correction). Moreover, RAMS analysis to study the feasibility of the technical solution in the railway context and laboratory testing are foreseen to verify the proposed technical solution. This will be a step forward towards ETCS level 3 that minimizes trackside costs and maximizes track capacity.
The dissemination of the project outcomes is the ultimate objective. Therefore, in order to spread the knowledge acquired during the project, a set of concrete, quantitative and customized activities that involve all the actors in the society are planned. By means of the a web site with an open forum, the project will disseminate the information at world wide level, 2 workshops will present the results to the railway industry and specific tasks assigned to contribute to industrial standards will help to harmonize the railway sector. In addition, with the double objective of disseminating the outcomes of the project and being exposed to different points of view, meetings with an Advisory Board will be held during the complete duration of the project. Regarding the scientific community, 8 contributions to technical journals/congresses are foreseen. Regarding the future labour force that will give competitiveness to Europe, it is worthwhile to mention that two courses for engineering students and professionals are planned.
Better testing and train control
An EU team is improving testing of the European Train Control System (ETCS). The study's model advances signal processing and has led to the design of new tools, plus work has begun on a Smart Train Positioning System (STPS).
The ETCS is a system for train signalling, control and protection that replaces various incompatible systems previously used on European railways. System rollout is a concern given the long delays involved in designing, testing and implementing upgrades.
Funded by the EU, the 'ETCS advanced testing and smart train positioning system' (http://www.eats-eu.org (EATS)) project aims to progress laboratory testing of ETCS on-board equipment. The undertaking will improve the current testing laboratory and accelerate the testing process, leading to more efficient testing tools. A further goal is to incorporate satellite positioning and other technologies into the ETCS. The eight-member consortium runs between October 2012 and March 2016.
The project developed an on-board ETCS model. The improved model manages information that the kernel sends and receives, and processes real physical signals for communication. The project also analysed the communication air gap using the best available techniques. ETCS safety requirements were identified and the project devised a methodology for determining faults to be injected. The project proposed its architecture, and implementation is underway.
Team members also defined requirements for the STPS. A simulator has been developed to help position antennas on the roofs of trains. The project defined the STPS testing requirements, and offered recommendations about STPS standardisation and certification.
In the first reporting period, the group completed preliminary design phases for the testing tools and for STPS for ETCS level 3.
The expected outcomes of EATS will be development of equipment leading to speedier testing of ETCS components, and the introduction of new satellite-based positioning systems.