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Railway in France to test GNSS for train control

February 8, 2017  - By

A region in France is working with SNCF (the French National Railway Company) to foster the emergence of new solutions — including GNSS technologies — for the operation and control of regional trains and railway infrastructure.

On Sept. 1, the Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region and GUIDE (GNSS Testing Laboratory) signed an agreement to open a railway line to field tests for companies seeking to perform assessments aboard trains. The agreement is supported by the French space agency CNES and the Aerospace Valley Center.

The Geofer project, managed by GUIDE, will allow the testing of applications in operational situations. The applications are based on radionavigation and telecommunication data initially intended for other business sectors.

Through the Geofer project, the Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region is pursuing two strategic goals. The first aims to strengthen mobility within the region through better control of operating costs. The second is to diversify industrial activities with rail. The project could lead to modernization of secondary lines of the national railway network by embedding, for example, some functions of railway signaling.

The test region — the Tessonnières-Rodez line (Tarn/Aveyron) — crosses a mountainous area conducive to tests in constrained environments.

As leader of the project, GUIDE is working to geo-reference the line and to instrument a train that will calibrate future embedded applications. The collected data will then be re-used and replayed on test benches to help solution developers tune their embedded systems more easily.

A co-financer of Geofer, CNES is actively involved in the tests. A receiver implementing an algorithm (PPP-WIZARD) developed by its engineers will be tested on board, using software to exploit future satellite services to achieve decimetric accuracy. This technology could make possible many rail applications such as precise dock stops or a better prediction of maintenance operations.

M3 Systems will supply the mission receiver responsible for dispatching accurate and real-time data about the positioning and speed of the train to embedded applications. This device merges the satellite measurements with those of other sensors used to ensure the quality of the geolocation messages.

For example, devices such as shock sensors to detect unusual efforts of the pantograph against the overhead cable, speed control systems for eco-driving, and roaming systems for telecommunication will be developed, implemented and evaluated on the line and on simulation benches.

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1 Comment on "Railway in France to test GNSS for train control"

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  1. William K. says:

    I had always been assuming that the railroads had a good idea of where the trains were. Evidently this is not correct. Evidently the presumption that the engineer driving the train would focus attention on that task and that all other functions would be handled by the fireman is also incorrect. It does seem to me that developing GPS maps of the railway may not be the most effective way of keeping trains under control.
    But certainly some method of dealing with inattentive and incompetent employees is needed, that much is certainly true.