The railway industries throughout Europe face increasing competition with other modes of transport, and with other manufacturers from Asia and Russia. They are therefore under constant pressure for cost-effective operations. To resolve the situation, the European Commission announced a set of new proposals to revitalise the rail transport. The priority to be addressed to solve the problems holding back its development concerns the lack of infrastructure and interoperability between networks and systems. Particular attention has been paid to a critical part of the overall rail system: the signalling system which is highly relevant for the performance and the safety of train operations.
Due to the seamless guidance by rails, the railway system requires a dedicated signalling sub-system, whereby a major part of the functionality must be ensured and controlled on the infrastructure side. From a European perspective, the traditional signalling is one of the most conservative parts of the railway system strongly bound to the national traditions by all involved parties. Since 1990 the EU is promoting the reformation of parts of the signalling subsystem under the ERTMS programme.
The objective of the INESS project was to define and develop specifications for a new generation of interlocking systems. It will thus extend and enhance the standardisation process. It will further lead to industry being more directly involved with Infrastructure Managers in developing innovative solutions for the future based on an enhanced and common understanding of the operational requirements needing to be delivered into the railway transportation system. The project aimed to:
- develop the business model and cooperation models to support migration strategies for ERTMS;
- harmonise data file formats, design tools, data transfer for production, data flows linked with system architectures and maximise the knowledge base of owned assets within the railway infrastructure;
- produce a common core of validated standardised functional requirements for future interlockings;
- identify the influence of ETCS levels 2 and 3 on the functional architecture and to propose an architecture for interlockings and the adjacent subsystems;
- provide safety-verified test tools and techniques to enable the testing and commissioning of signalling applications;
- identify an efficient way for an interpretation of the safety case process according to the relevant CENELEC standard.
Note that the implementation of ETCS could be hampered, in areas of the conventional European rail network, where interlocking will need to be replaced, if this cannot be carried out in an economically and technically efficient manner. Also the implementation of systems utilising centralised and automated route-setting of trains will be economically constrained. Railways are aiming for significantly reduced life-cycle costs of future interlocking and associated outdoor equipment. Standardisation, increased competitive tendering and significant reduction of implementation time are considered to be key requirements for the future. Without an approach, similar to that underway for ERTMS-ETCS, many suppliers will run into resource constraints, making it difficult for them to keep up with the many new concurrent developments.
Therefore, railways and the signalling supply industry agree that the scope of INESS should be the interlocking up to the point of interfaces with the surrounding other signalling and train control systems like centralised traffic control, neighbouring interlocking, ETCS Radio-block centres and possibly object controllers for out-door devices. INESS will adopt the CENELEC norm with the underlying system engineering principles. It will build on the available results of both the Euro-Interlocking project and the ERTMS developments and it will especially not modify the current ETCS functionalities and solutions.
INESS has defined and developed specifications for a new generation of interlocking systems. The project also has enhanced the standardisation process. Furthermore, the INESS project supported the development of a new generation of interlocking systems with interfaces towards adjacent systems like ETCS.
The INESS project ensured the take up of knowledge and results that come out of the INESS project. This wasdone through:
- dissemination of project results and a proper diffusion of knowledge, using a real platform primarily developed to demonstrate INESS outcomes;
- ensuring exploitation of the results and establishing interfaces to standardisation bodies in order to introduce the INESS results as draft standard proposals;
- training and coaching programs for industry and railway infrastructure companies, to assure the long-term availability of a skilled and trained workforce for the implementation of INESS results.
Intervention into design and/or maintenance in the railway domain by implementing new products and procedures, may have long term effects and very important impacts on costs of the railway system.
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