Friday 8 June 2012

D-RAIL: Development of the Future Rail Freight System to reduce the occurrences and Impact of Derailment

D-RAIL will focus on freight traffic, identifying root causes of derailment of particular significance to freight vehicles, which have a wider range of operating parameters (as a result of the huge range in loads, speeds and maintenance quality) than passenger vehicles.

One key question that will be studied is how independent minor faults (e.g., a slight track twist and a failing bearing) could combine to cause a derailment. D-RAIL will extend this study to include the expected demands on the rail freight system forecast for 2050, such as heavier axle loads, faster freight vehicle speeds for time-sensitive – low volume high value high speed services (LVHVHS) – goods, radically new vehicle designs, or longer train consists.

A set of alarm limits will be specified which can be selected as appropriate by infrastructure managers, depending on local conditions. In tandem with the above analysis, current monitoring systems (both wayside and vehicle-mounted) and developing technologies will be assessed with respect to their ability to identify developing faults and potential dangers. Where current systems are shown to be deficient, the requirements for future monitoring systems will be specified.

D-RAIL will also examine vehicle identification technologies, such as the standards- and interoperability-focussed RFID system being implemented by GS1 and Trafikverket. Integration of alarm limits, monitoring systems and vehicles across national borders and network boundaries will be examined and a deployment plan set out based on RAMS and LCC analyses.

Procedures for applying speed limits to faulty vehicles, or taking them out of service, will be set out; this will include communication with the parties responsible for the transport of the freight and for maintenance of the vehicle.

This will input to standards, regulations and international contracts.

For field testing and validation, D-RAIL will have access to VUZ’s test track in the Czech Republic.

SPECTRUM: SPECTRUM - Solutions and Processes to Enhance the Competitiveness of Transport by Rail in Unexploited Markets

SPECTRUM explores the market opportunities for transport of low density, high value (LDHV) goods, utilising new and innovative rail concepts. Focus is on the extension of existing 21st century rail services and more visionary rail logistics services. Early project proceedings set the foundations for detailing concepts by defining technological and operational requirements.

Preliminary research is built upon with an assessment of existing conceptual designs and a shift in focus to assess technical and operational requirements.

SPECTRUM develops a detailed design concept for a high performance freight train that is efficiently lightweight, has driving performance characteristics that facilitate mixed running with passenger services and is capable of accommodating the required types of freight container unit.

Design work includes:

  • Optimised, lightweight, energy efficient freight wagon structures
  • High speed running gear, including brakes and vehicle dynamics
  • Electrical systems and coupling arrangements
  • The handling of freight container units

Design solutions are evaluated ex-ante in their effectiveness for shifting the cargo of unexploited markets to rail, and their contribution to environmental sustainability and social aspects. A series of indicators is developed to accurately assess the merits of each design as well as an exploitation plan including recommendations to allow replication of project results.

Ultimately, at least one demonstrator is produced in order to validate the innovative high performance freight train design solutions developed in the project. Demonstrators such as; the power conversion system that supports the reefers being carried, the running gear that supports high speed operation, critical aspects of the lightweight vehicle structure and the freight handling system are developed. ’Real life’ conditions in terms of scale, fabrication, installation maintainability and robustness are replicated.

SPECTRUM is promoted throughout the duration of the project using websites, newsletters and interaction with user groups.

SUSTRAIL: the sustainable freight railway


The Sustrail objective is to contribute to the rail freight system to allow it to regain position and market, accounting for:

  • The increase of the demand of the total freight transport volumes: 40% (in tonne-kilometres) by 2030 and 80% by 2050;
  • The shift of 30% of road freight over 300km to other modes such as rail or waterborne transport by 2030 (50% by 2050) as targeted by the European Commission.

Within this framework and motivated by the necessity and opportunity for change in rail transport, Sustrail provides the approach, structure, and technical content to improve the Sustainability, Competitiveness, and Availability of European railway networks thanks to an integrated approach.

Innovations in rolling stock and freight vehicles combined with innovations in the track components will be pursued by:

  • adopting a holistic approach;
  • implementing a clear methodology and viable procedures
  • setting up appropriate business cases
  • ensuring the penetration and the exploitation of the project results by means of effective dissemination activities
  • cooperating with National and EU authorities in view of future proposals for recommendations to be adopted for enhancing freight transport in the railway context


A deliberate approach is adopted to guarantee innovations in both vehicles and rail infrastructures: Methodology, Implementation Timeframe, and Means of Application are the three key feature of this approach.

  • Methodology: employment of a holistic approach that leverages the skills of the consortium, including vehicles and their subcomponents, freight, passenger, track and substructure, and operational procedures. State of the art, benchmarking, and integration of ongoing rail projects are fundamental in the conduct of technical activities.
  • Implementation Timeframe: we will develop both short term and medium term solutions. We are focused an actions that can have an impact today and in the near tomorrow. Several consortium members have very strict parameters on what can and cannot be supported. For example, rail companies that have recently retrofitted vehicle systems at large expense are not receptive to new short term vehicle requirements. However, other topics and other timeframes can be supported. SUSTRAIL will balance actions for short term impact with room to be strikingly innovative for mid term impact.
  • Means of Application: Adoption of an integrated approach. The Sustrail solutions (in vehicles, track, and operations) will be demonstrated on real routes, which have been selected based on their geographic dispersion, their type (freight vs. passenger) and their frequency of traffic.
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Sustrail Structure

The Sustrail Integrated Approach

Expected Results - Key Innovations

The main scientific and technological expected results of the project are:

  • The development of advanced vehicle dynamics concepts based on new wheel profiles and improvements in suspension design responding to the needs of a mixed traffic railway
  • Developments in the traction and braking systems for high speed low impact freight operation
  • Novel designs and materials for lightweight high performance freight wagon body vehicles and bogie structures, within a targeted maximum speed of160km/h and an increased axle load, equal to 25 tons
  • Advanced condition based predictive maintenance tools for critical components of both railway vehicles and the track
  • Identification of performance based design principles to move towards the zero maintenance ideal for the vehicle/track system
  • Optimisation of the ballast system and novel ground stabilisation and monitoring techniques to reduce track geometry degradation
  • Optimisation of the track system and geometry, including switches and crossing Full-scale field tests will be carrying on proving and demonstrating the feasibility of the Sustrail solutions on real routes Business cases will be set up, accounting for whole-system implementation, including phasing in of novel technologies and strategies for the equitable redistribution of whole-system savings.

The market penetration of the Sustrail results is guaranteed by the participation of:

  • railway suppliers
  • research groups
  • railway operators (under-takings and infrastructure managers), guaranteeing that project solutions will satisfy user needs and fulfill railway requirements
  • railway organizations at EU and international level


SUSTRAIL started in June 2011 with a duration of four years (June 2011 - May 2015)