According to the ERRAC (European Rail Research Advisory Council) study, 'Light Rail and Metro Systems in Europe: Current market, Perspectives and research implication', there are 170 LRT networks and 36 metro networks in Western Europe. It is expected that the number of new LRT systems could expand by more than 50% over the next 20 years. For metros, the number of new systems is expected to be limited to around five, whereas 55% of existing metro networks are currently extending existing lines or planning new lines. Most of the existing metro systems will have their rolling and signalling equipment replaced over the next 20 years and/or transformed from driver to driverless operation. These figures are in line with the target of the ERRAC Railway Business Scenario 2020 and will be dwarfed by the number of new systems being put into operation in the rest of the world, which are being built using European norms and expertise. This could account for more than 50% of the production of the European rail industry over the same period.
Passenger trips are expected to grow by 40% over the next two decades, across all transport modes. ERRAC's vision is that the rail market share could double and that the rail market volume could increase by more than a 150% in passengers over current volumes. To meet this expectation - which means a reverse in the current trends of the last 20 years - it is of utmost importance to develop reliable, affordable, attractive and even more energy-efficient urban rail systems for use in European cities. This calls for innovative and interchangeable constituents and subsystems with common harmonised interfaces. This will reduce the cost of ownership as well as the operation and maintenance of rail installations. It is vital in view of the growing complexity of new IT based subsystems that new products are developed along common interchangeable modular principles.
The main target of the project was to design, develop and test an innovative and open common core system architecture and its key interfaces (this covers command control, energy saving and access subsystems), paving the way for the next generations of urban-guided public transport systems. This approach would apply to new lines as well as the renewal and extension of existing lines, and would encourage cost-effective migration from driver to driverless operation. This integrated approach would avoid the risk of new rolling stock and subsystems being built from unproven prototype sub-assemblies. With regard to passenger information and exchange at platforms, the objective was to harmonise the displays and push buttons as much as possible, as well as the operational procedures. Moreover, various energy saving methods (e.g. optimisation software, lightweight materials) would be developed.
The project was divided into six sub-projects:
- Mod-Onboard, dealing with onboard subsystems, led by Alstom Transport;
- Mod-Wayside, looking at wayside subsystems, led by Ansaldo STS;
- Mod-Comm, examining the data communication subsystem, led by Thales RSS;
- Mod-Access, focusing on passenger and access related subsystems, led by Knorr-Bremse;
- Mod-Energy to assess energy savings-related subsystems, led by Siemens;
- and finally Mod-System, which adopted a complete system approach for functional and technical specifications and global risk assessment, led by RATP.
There was also a Users' Group, which consisted of operators not direct members of the consortium. Their input and feedback on key deliverables has been important in order to validate and disseminate some of the results.
The major result after almost four years was the 'functional requirement specifications' (FRS). Known as D80, this document encapsulates the recommended functional and performance requirements for command, control and train management systems for urban rail applications. It is fully endorsed by operators and by the entire MODURBAN consortium.
Based on many years of operating and manufacturing experience, the FRS includes a complete set of 'ready-to-use' requirements. It covers networks ranging from manually driven trains to fully driverless operation. A common system core ensures a seamless upgrade route from one level of automation to the next, right up to unattended train operation. The basic operational characteristics outlined in the FRS include:
- general requirements;
- functional requirements;
- grades of automation;
- interoperability requirements;
- principles for degraded operation;
- system performance requirements.
With regards to passenger information systems, MODURBAN has delivered an overview of this equipment and its functions, together with a comparison of the principal European products. It has also defined Passenger Information System interfaces to other MODURBAN subsystems, and provided a useful overview of regulations in the EU member states in the field of video surveillance, as well as a functional description of the system architecture.
One of MODURBAN's most innovative achievements is the definition of a commonly agreed 'fault tolerant data communication system' which is transparent to the train control system. Today almost all urban rail operators have a multitude of data and voice communication systems, both fixed link and radio. Each of these has a dedicated role - for example one to deal with train control and signalling, another with video surveillance, another for voice communications, and so on. However, none of them are interoperable and they cannot talk to one another.
Other achievements include the 'intelligent driving' concept, which addresses the problems of variation in train parameters with time, and the deviation of the train parameters (such as braking and traction capacities and reaction times) outside the normal range, across an entire fleet. Intelligent Driving is able, for example, to learn the train parameters and verify their deviation, and adjust the key parameters where necessary in order to compensate for any observed deviations in train performance.
The functional specifications contain a complete set of functions and requirements based on 'mandatory functions' and 'optional functions' according to the Grades of Automation. These cover functions for train operation, including rules to ensure safe movement of trains, functions for operation management and supervision, as well as system performance criteria, for example those related to passenger exchange (boarding and alighting at stations).
The benefits are crystal clear: the assurance of having a comprehensive set of requirements, derived from the wealth of experience gained by major players, which represents a state-of-the-art performance specification with no surprises.
Under MODURBAN's common system architecture, functions are allocated to a system or subsystem level. The main advantage of this common architecture is that it is applicable to all system configurations with or without existing interlockings, with or without secondary train detection, and it is capable of accommodating different levels of automation.
With a much greater awareness of energy consumption and the need for energy saving, there has been considerable interest in MODURBAN's work in this field. A number of energy saving models have been reviewed and validated against real-life data. One specific result is the development of a prototype lightweight interior grab rail.
The MODURBAN project culminated with the final presentation and tests of some of its technologies on Metro de Madrid Line 9, on 16 and 17 December 2008. Using a dedicated MODURBAN train, it successfully showcased:
- the 'intelligent driving' concept;
- operation of the interchangeable data communication system;
- onboard and wayside equipment for passenger information and video systems;
- the use of lightweight materials, notably the new grab rails.