In order to improve safety at rail level crossings, nowadays passive crossings are either removed or upgraded. Upgrades are expensive, which limits the number of crossings that can be upgraded. Additional costs have to be made for communication and signaling infrastructure in case of remote areas. SafeRail provides a low cost solution using Satellite Navigation and Satellite Communication technology, allowing railway operators to accelerate their level crossing upgrade programme.
Based on evaluation of the present situation at level crossings and interviews with stakeholders across Europe who are relevant for the deployment of level crossing solutions (e.g. ÖBB Infrastructure (AT), JHMD (CZ), SZDC (CZ), train operators Stern & Hafferl (AT), Graz Köflach Bahn (AT), and ADAC (DE), Kuratorium für Verkehr (AT) and UIC (FR)), user key needs and opportunities for improvement were identified and translated into the SafeRail System. SafeRail is basically a satellite based train positioning system which enables continuous train detection and safe operation of level crossings.
An upgrade of passive level crossings to active ones is possible at remarkably reduced costs compared with standard upgrading approaches / conventional systems, because of:
Even for trains running at different speed the system can now provide homogeneous closure periods to the road user.
SafeRail in its current state is targeted for Rail Operations, because the technical feasibility and business viability assessments have proven to be very promising. Future extensions of SafeRail may include services for Road Users and Rail Maintenance.
The SafeRail study included a series of workshops and a few tens of expert interviews with users and other stakeholders in order to establish a description of the current situation (and challenges) at level crossings and to conclude on user needs and requirements.
Users considered in this study are:
Stakeholders taken into account included:
SafeRail has no general geographical limitation and can be implemented world-wide. The first focus is on Central Europe.
The Service Concept depends on the finally prioritized User Needs and will be elaborated later on in more detail. Possible concepts include:
SafeRail will provide an improved and stable train position information compared with currently existing standard GNSS solutions, based on Satellite Navigation in combination with a tailored integrity computation. Satellite navigation is also intended for the detection of road users in the surrounding of LCs and thus, to provide the road users appropriate information about LCs when they are approaching. Satellite Communication is used to provide a second communication link, enabling uninterrupted communication and redundancy for the envisaged safety critical application. SafeRail is designed to cope with:
This added functionality provided by the satellite technology will be implemented in SafeRail and interfaces with existing systems. No major modifications of the existing systems are needed, as SafeRail will be adapted to the customer needs.
The SafeRail team is currently preparing a demonstration project which will involve equipping at least two secondary rail lines in Central Europe with the proposed SafeRail solution. The aim of the demonstration project is the implementation of a pre-operational SafeRail solution which will be operated for at least 6 months in a “shadow” environment to gain further confidence in the sustainability of the solution. The demonstration project will benefit from a close collaboration with the potential customer and will show the benefits from the integrated use of Satellite Navigation and Communication. This pre-operational SafeRail will be transferred into regular operations after the demonstration phase. The consortium is currently in discussion with strongly interested Rail Infrastructure Managers about further details of the demonstration project.