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Internet technology for rail operations and maintenance


Successfully prototyped hardware and software that helps keep rail operators on track with their maintenance offers real-time diagnostic capabilities and remote monitoring for train systems through the use of Internet technology.

EUROMAIN aimed to define a complete maintenance support system for rail operators, one that would support real-time monitoring and diagnosis of systems and equipment aboard trains and in fixed plants. However the project team also intended to establish standards that could underpin the formation of new types of maintenance organisation in Europe.

“Our main objective was to define a common infrastructure which would help support rail operations and maintenance into the future,” says Paolo Umiliacchi of CNC (Centro Nuova Comunicazione) in Italy. “Although our work covered both rolling stock and the rail infrastructure, our main focus was on the rolling stock.”

The core of the project was the development of new data exchange standards for diagnostic systems and telemetry data monitoring. The objective was to provide rail operations and maintenance organisations with real-time diagnostic capabilities for their train systems, enabling them to monitor the status of each device at all times and thus be able to optimise the use of precious maintenance resources.

The IST-funded EUROMAIN project finished on 31 March 2005, and by project close the 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 of these rail operators and manufacturers were partners in the project.

Umiliacchi emphasises that what is novel about the platform is the use of XML technology in the database systems, and the development of standard interfaces between all the different systems involved. “The technology comes from the Internet – what we have done is adapt it to the rail maintenance field,” he says.

Involvement in EUROMAIN has taught useful lessons to all the partners in the consortium, and they are now examining how the concepts and standards developed within the project can be embedded into their own systems.

“The results of EUROMAIN have also become the baseline for a new Sixth Framework programme project called INTEGRAIL,” says Umiliacchi. This latest initiative 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.

Tara Morris | alfa
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