It is widely believed that railways represent the only transport mode which can significantly contribute in the next years to solve the increasingly difficult mobility and congestion problems in the European transportation system, as roads and airways approach saturation and cause damaging environmental effects.
The continued growth in transport demand puts in evidence the existing problems of Europe's transport system and forces authorities to adopt precise and robust action plans to get real improvements in a reasonable period of time. The White Paper "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide" identifies "revitalising the railways" as one of the main objectives, to be achieved first of all opening up the markets, pushing for further harmonisation in the fields of interoperability and safety, improving railways credibility, in terms of regularity and punctuality, and completing the envisaged trans-European Network.
To effectively address such objectives and support its strategic role, the railway system needs to improve all parts of its organisation, removing bottlenecks and taking advantage of new technologies: an important factor is the maintenance activity, and its impact on system performances, costs, quality of service and openness. While initiatives to improve maintenance exist from single railway operators, only a concerted action at continental level can give a common standard vision covering all aspects in this field.
The EuRoMain project intended to fully define and specify a complete maintenance support system for railways, which will allow to remotely monitor and diagnose complex systems aboard trains and inside fixed plants, automatically link real-time data with suitable technical documentation, retrieving it in standard format from a distributed database, and ubiquitously present the appropriate information to final Users, by means of a complete set of tools. The project envisaged the development and validation of prototype hardware and software modules, integrating them within the communication infrastructure developed by the TrainCom project (IST-1999-20096).
The results would include proposals for new standards, allowing interoperability between different countries, systems and operators, and paving the way for a new maintenance organisation in Europe.
More specifically, the objectives of the EUROMAIN project were:
- To support and monitor maintenance activities remotely;
- To improve system availability and reliability, therefore reducing failures and related delays;
- To reduce maintenance down time and related costs;
- To simplify and harmonise the maintenance procedures at European level;
- To optimise long-term maintenance planning;
- To reduce life cycle cost of equipment;
- To improve cooperation and document exchange between involved actors;
- To manage and monitor vehicle fleets and plant families;
- To promote interoperability of maintenance tools;
- To contribute to the establishment of a trans-European railway network;
- To open the market to new stake holders, including SME's.
To achieve its objectives, the project has been divided into the following three Activity Fields:
1. European Diagnostic Data Network (EDDN)
The main objective of this activity field is to define standards for systems breakdown and data exchange. The aim of the diagnostic data network is to give immediate diagnostic information to ground systems, so that operators can know the status of each device and the maintenance workshop can plan in advance the resources for maintenance operations.
2. European Technical Documentation Network (ETDN)
This activity field aims to define standards for technical documentation, making it available wherever needed. Documentation is a primary resource for maintenance. New computer and web technologies can greatly improve the benefits and usability of technical documents. The development of standards for the structure of the document types that constitute maintenance documentation (manuals, maintenance procedures, troubleshooting procedures, preventive maintenance programs), and the use of the standard language XML will allow to:
- Easily retrieve information thanks to a standard structure and newer technologies capabilities;
- Always access updated documents;
- Obtain well built manuals;
- Have access to information anywhere.
3. Logistic Application Standardization and Interoperability (LASI)
This activity field groups specific maintenance applications and tools. New and more powerful maintenance tools can be produced by means of the developed technologies. Specifications for such applications and basic modules will be developed as follows:
- Configuration management: aims at keeping an updated database of each item installed on a vehicle. This kind of information is needed to plan preventive and corrective maintenance operations. For each vehicle, the system shows, on a computer connected to the ground network, a functional or a physical breakdown of all items, down to replaceable unit level. If an item is replaced in a maintenance operation, it is possible to update the configuration from a computer connected to the ground network.
- Maintenance Management Systems: allows to plan, monitor and optimise maintenance activities, so that a high level of technical reliability and safety can be maintained. To achieve this, data coming from vehicles and fixe
The main results of the EUROMAIN project were:
- Contributions to technical specifications for interoperability and European standards;
- Architecture and standard platform of the European Diagnostic Data Network, including data formats and diagnostic database;
- Standard specification of the European Technical Documentation Network, including document DTDs and codification rules;
- Infrastructure for Logistic Applications Standardisation and Interoperability, including configuration database and interfaces to third parties applications.
As a Research and Development project, EUROMAIN has been very successful in directing research and thought into the overall railway maintenance philosophy.
- The idea of a common and collaborative European Diagnostic Data Network (EDDN) is now reality. The specified EDDN data model based on UML with several stereotypes defined, can now be a basis for future Standardisation work in several standardisation bodies such as the WG14. Furthermore, it is the basis for the next level of coherent integration like InteGRail, in which it can serve for a even more semantically enriched monitoring information specification.
- The specified LASI data model based on UML with several stereotypes defined, can also be a basis for future Standardisation work in several standardisation bodies such as the WG14. Furthermore it is the basis for the next level of intelligent integration like InteGRail, in which it can serve as a method for connecting processes across the running railway, such as operations, traffic management, infrastructure monitoring, etc.
EUROMAIN has taught useful lessons to all the partners in the consortium, and they have been examining how the concepts and standards developed within the project can be embedded into their own systems.
Members of the EUROMAIN project team had successfully demonstrated their hardware and software prototypes on trains from three different manufacturers in three countries. In France the platform was demonstrated on an SNCF train produced by Alstom, in Austria the operator was OEBB (Oesterreichische Bundesbahnen) with a train from Siemens, and in Italy the Trenitalia train was manufactured by Bombardier. All these rail operators and manufacturers were partners in the project.
The results of EUROMAIN have also become the baseline for a new Sixth Framework programme project called INTEGRAIL. This new project has a broader scope than EUROMAIN, and aims to create a holistic, coherent information system that can integrate the major railway sub-systems and deliver a higher level of coordination and cooperation between key railway processes.