Energy management is already a key issue for railway systems and it has been identified to remain prominent for the foreseeable future. The variety of operational scenarios within the system adds complexity to the development of solutions suitable for all users. Existing assessment tools lack an integrated approach and instead focus on singular elements of the system in isolation. Network models tend to also be assessed in isolation without considering their links to other networks or any potential alternative scenarios. Critically, these tools tend to omit the variation over different periods of the timetable in emission levels, energy usage and associated costs.
The existing individual tools and network models cannot tackle the energy management issue for the entire network alone, what is needed is a network level energy-cost manager approach, which considers holistically vehicles, infrastructure components and efficient operation.
MERLIN’s main aim and purpose is to investigate and demonstrate the viability of an integrated management system to achieve a more sustainable and optimised energy usage in European electric mainline railway systems.
MERLIN will provide an integrated optimisation approach, which includes multiple elements, dynamic forecasting supply-demand scenarios and cost considerations. This will support operational decisions leading to a cost-effective intelligent management of energy and resources through:
- Improved design of existing and new railway distribution networks and electrical systems as well as their interfaces with the public grid and considering network interconnections
- Better understanding of the influence on energy demand for railway system operations and operational procedures
- Identification of technologies and solutions able to further contribute to the optimisation of energy usage
- More efficient traction energy supply based on optimised use of resources
- Understanding of the cross-dependency between these different technological solutions to define optimum combinations for optimised energy usage
- Improving cost effectiveness of the overall railway system
- Contribution to European standardisation (TecRec)
MERLIN will also deliver the interface protocol and the architecture for energy management systems in the railway domain, combining the technical development with a new business model that would enable and foster their application.
This main purpose will be addressed by:
- Developing the specifications for the reference architecture for an integrated energy optimisation approach for the design (strategic approach) and operation of networks
- Identifying and defining real railway operation scenarios suitable for intelligently managing energy through the use of systems, such as those proposed in MERLIN
- Developing a strategic decision making tool and operational railway energy management tool
- Simulating different use cases in each scenario using both tools developed within MERLIN scope, aiming to collect the information related to energy management and optimisation prospects
- Assessing access conditions to the energy market for railway stakeholders leading to an optimised usage of resources and equipment by identifying and defining the energy and power exchange interfaces between rolling stock, railway energy network and public energy grid
- Developing a pilot case of the integrated energy optimisation approach for evaluation and assessment
The work will begin with the identification and definition of the sub-systems and elements of the railway networks. The analysis of the requirements will be led by operators and infrastructure managers. Based on collected information, a global consumption map per country will be elaborated in order to identify where the critical problems are (WP1).
The most suitable real-life based scenarios (high-speed, mainline, mixed passenger & freight lines) will be defined (WP3) by train operating companies and infrastructure managers, supported by UIC and the Rail Reference Group organised under the auspices of WP8.
Taking into account the sub-systems and elements identified in WP1, the modules required for the reference architecture will be identified and specified (WP2). The technological developments will be divided into strategic and operational.
From the strategic side, a specific optimisation tool- (decision making oriented) will be created (WP5). The tool and models aim to support decisions relating to strategic investment in new energy saving technologies for new lines or the retrofitting of existing ones. From the operational side, the studies will target the development of new controllable components, modules, applications and protocols of the railway smart grid (WP4) as defined in the global architecture in WP2.
An evaluation exercise of the strategic and operational tools will be
Managing energy flow in railway systems
Europe's electric mainline railway systems provide an important service to individuals and businesses. Energy management solutions can enhance their sustainability, and a large EU-funded consortium plans to deliver a roadmap for implementation.
No individual supplier, operator or infrastructure manager can develop a pan-European railway energy management system (REM-S). A consortium of 18 partners representing major stakeholders across Europe is working together on the EU-funded project http://www.merlin-rail.eu/ (MERLIN) to provide a solution.
The task is quite challenging, but the team is well-organised and moving ahead. Partners characterised the main railway networks in Europe, defining infrastructures, sub-systems and components. As there are currently no applicable standards, scientists evaluated the standardisation and calibration of energy meters and data communication from on-board energy meters to smart grid components.
In order to get a better handle on the current situation, researchers developed a graphical depiction of overall energy flow. Energy consumption maps were made for the railway power supply systems of representative networks in Spain, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Five case studies in four European countries are helping evaluate various aspects of improved energy management. The high-speed network from Paris to Lyon is included to evaluate the introduction of an energy storage system (ESS) to improve line capacity. Scientists are working on minimising power losses and enhancing punctuality and delivery during peak power demands in Swedish inter-city systems.
Introduction of an ESS to suburban service in Spain that already exploits rheostatic braking (converting kinetic energy into electrical energy) will be evaluated to enable more efficient traction energy. Finally, two scenarios from the United Kingdom are included, one to use electrified or diesel vehicles and one to implement new contractual arrangements.
Partners have developed the first draft of the reference architecture for the REM-S based on the Smart Grid Architecture Model. They have also defined the information exchange protocol between components, and defined the structure of the decision-making tool that will support fulfilment of REM-S objectives.
MERLIN is developing the components and management tools necessary for efficient energy resource management on European electric railways. Standardisation will make an important contribution to future development, implementation and effectiveness. Finally, optimised energy management for reduced consumption could lead to cost savings passed on to consumers in the form of reduced fares.