Dutch Railways (NS) deploys first Railnova series on BR186 to bring ERTMS under real-time control

Story by Xavier Jaffré, Business Development at Railnova
Apr 06, 2018

Dutch Railways (NS) trains run on some of the busiest lines in Europe, including the HSL Zuid line, and any delay on the network has major implications for passengers, international traffic and operations. As an increasing number of people are choosing to travel by train and lines are getting busier, it’s paramount to prevent anything that might cause delays and to be very responsive in case of unforeseen events.

In their efforts for a “Predictable train journey”, NS is bringing “RealTime monitoring” onto their fleet to:

  1. Enable maintenance support teams to analyse real-time diagnostic data to insure drivers can continue their journey
  2. Reduce inline failures through predictive maintenance

While ERTMS is setting new standards for Railway safety, ETCS as a new component on the train is bringing new challenges in terms of reliability for railway operators.

Avoid delays: ERTMS real-time monitoring is key

In case a failure should happen, it’s very important to limit the impact of that event to a minimum. To do so, the drivers need to be able to act on a failure fast and get the help they require.

However, there are many failure modes (+400) that might show up during operations, and each type happens quite rarely for a given driver (around 4 failure modes per driver on average per year). This combination makes it hard to keep train drivers trained for each failure mode.

Real-time Monitoring helps NS, from day one, to deal with the increasing complexity of the trains and allows their teams on the ground and the helpdesk to respond quicker, to provide more context and the right diagnosis when a failure should happen. With Railnova’s system the NS hotline and experts always have access to the latest fault codes, alerts and context data, which enables them to provide faster and more accurate advice to drivers so they can take the right actions and avoid disruptions.

Build strong return on experience: analysing failures in detailed context is key

Previously NS could only rely on incomplete and asynchronous data sources (manual download of ERTMS data when the train was in the workshop, and limited online access to DCPU data) to study failure patterns and build return on experience in order to prevent future failures and improve reliability.

Railnova is now bringing real-time connectivity to 3 main data sources on the train (read-only):

  • MVB: all train variables are accessible to NS at bus native sampling rate.
  • ETCS fault codes (JRU): all messages written by the EVC to the JRU are accessible to NS in real time
  • TCMS (a.k.a. DCPU) fault codes: all logs from the locomotive main computer are accessible to NS in real time.

Thanks to the continuous transmission of this data, NS data scientists and engineers are able to understand and classify the failure modes in their actual detailed context. Continuous time series are a huge improvement on the limited data snapshots that are usually transmitted with fault codes.

Once the failure mode is analysed in detail, NS derives a new business rule that will trigger when a similar situation occurs, thus allowing for more automated supervision and anticipation on new occurrences of the same problem.

Help teams on the ground to take the right actions based relevant diagnostics tips and real-time fault code context

Business rules can be deployed both on the edge device (the Railster) when native sampling rate on MVB is required, or on server-side, as Railnova also provides stream processing capabilities.

Railnova is a solid technological partner for NS

Installing a railway computer in their train is not something that NS took lightly. Railnova passed the IT safety audits and complied to the stringent railway safety requirements, and the NS privacy requirements. Railnova was able to prove its agility and expertise in deploying a highly technical solution in a railway environment in just a few months.

Innovation is also a key driver for NS and Railnova. With Railnova, NS is in full control of which parameters it can extract and transmit from its trains and reduces the time it takes to iterate on business rules considerably. Railnova’s embedded rule engine (a.k.a complex event processor) allows NS to leverage their (fleet) knowledge and to be hands on with their return on experience.

Want to see how Railnova can help your team to prevent delays due to unforeseen events, or to avoid unforeseen incidents all together? Get in touch with us, we’re happy to help!

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