Objective of the EMUSER project is the realization of an innovative obstacle detection system integrated with a satellite Broad Band link for the safety of active level crossings.
EMUSER is designed and developed relying on Intecs extensive expertise in the railway domain, deep knowledge of safety regulations/standards and solid technological background.
EMUSER is an extension based on the existing MUSER system developed by Intecs for the detection of unexpected obstacles at level crossings and for the transmission of the related alarms and diagnostics to central control stations, certified by RFI (Italian Railway Infrastructure Manager) and CENELEC SIL-4 compliant.
Whereas MUSER relies on conventional communication channels, EMUSER relies on the introduction of the broadband satellite datalink that replaces (in locations where the terrestrial communication is not available) or complements (redundancy) the legacy communication link traditionally used in the railway infrastructure.
The introduction of satellite Broad Band link aims to increase the system’s availability.
Users and their needs
The sector where the EMUSER offering is positioned is the provision of obstacle detection and signalling products and services for railway level crossings. The sector is worldwide, determined by the more than 600 thousand level crossings in the world, which are spread out among all major geographical locations in all continents.
Within this global sector, the EU market and the rest of the world are characterized by different constraints and factors influencing growth rates.
In the EU market one of the principal drivers for Rail Infrastructure Managers’ investment is the need to adhere to the safety standards and demonstrate compliance by means of certification. Securing level crossings in the EU is a growing trend as the European regulations require to increase the level of safety in the rail transport and level crossings constitute a significant safety concern.
In contrast, markets in the rest of the world are more lightly regulated but dominated by economic concerns. Poor existing railway communication infrastructure and remote locations in vast geographic regions drive up installation and operation costs to untenable levels.
The product fulfils the main RIM’s needs as:
- To have a system that fulfils the highest level of safety standards SIL4.
- To have a system configuration designed for high availability demand scenario in which both terrestrial and satellite communications are managed.
- To have a cost-effective solution in area not covered by terrestrial communication links.
Service/ system concept
The EMUSER system is composed of one Remote Control Station to control a set of Sensing Nodes. Each sensing node protects a level crossing.
When the barriers are closed, the EMUSER node is in charge of:
- Level crossing area scansion and obstacle detection
- Alarm signalling
- Video acquisition and transfer to the Remote Control Station
- Diagnostic Data Recording and transfer to the Remote Control Station.
The node located along track is designed following a modular approach; the current MUSER cabinet communicates with an additional node called Multi Bearer Node (MBN). The MBN comprises two sub-modules called MBN Cabinet and MBN Dome; the former is in charge of mainly managing the networking, the communication redundancy and the terrestrial links aspects while the latter is dedicated exclusively to the satellite communication.
Moreover, each node is equipped with:
- From one to four radar sensors (depending on the geometric characteristics of the monitored area).
- One camera for each radar sensor;
Each node can communicate with the Remote Control Station using different mechanisms (depending on the node location and operational conditions):
- Wired link;
- Terrestrial wireless communication UMTS;
- Satellite link.
In parallel with the commercial solution we decided to equip the node with a type of antenna that does not require satellite dishes. This antenna is characterized by low profile, low weight and reduced complexity.
The integration of satellite and terrestrial technologies represents an efficient step forward to improve reliability, resilience and service availability.
Space Added Value
Technically, the main advantages of using a satellite Broad Band link with respect to more traditional approaches (either based on conventional communication channels, or more drastically based on the substitution of level crossings with underpasses or overpasses) are:
- Increased resilience and availability of the whole system in situations where conventional communication systems are unavailable due to natural disasters (e.g. floods or earthquakes) or unforeseen damages to the rail infrastructure (e.g. derailment or copper theft);
- Possibility to install and operate the system also in areas that are uncovered or poorly covered by conventional communication networks: in such areas (for instance in the Middle East or in remote regions of Australia) wired connection with the central station may be unavailable and wireless connection may offer insufficient bandwidth for the transmission of real-time video sequences;
- Limited investment and socio-technical impact if compared to the invasive solution of building an underpass or an overpass in substitution of a level crossing.
After the successful completion of SAT review held in the level crossing in northern Italy, EMUSER system has completed the Pilot Phase lasted 1.5 months.
It is possible to consider the Pilot phase a complete success. First, the installation of the EMUSER equipment as an extension of existing MUSER system, testimonies the high modularity and goodness of the solution. In particular, the installation of the new EMUSER product on Pilot site was possible only after having demonstrated the compliance to the stringent safety rail requirements and guaranteed not causing damage to people.
Secondly, the Pilot phase has demonstrated “on the field” that EMUSER system is totally non-intrusive versus the existing solution since no malfunctions, delays or performance degradations occur. This is the proof of the high quality of the design and high product’s maturity.
Then, from an operational point of view, a great result is achieved since EMUSER system has appeared completely transparent for the End User. It is observed that service performances were not degraded or experienced different behaviour for different primary communication links. Moreover also in case of simulated critical events involving the lack of primary communication link, EMUSER has reacted, as expected, guaranteeing the increase of service availability without End User having noticed the communication switching.
In conclusion, the Pilot activity has provided us with the possibility to assess the product reliability by keeping the service active 24/7 and stressing interactions more than under normal conditions. It is possible to state that EMUSER product has demonstrated high maturity since no corrective actions or HW/SW refinements were taken place differently on what is generally expected in assessing a new product “on the field” and this makes us confident in considering EMUSER product technically ready for the market.