Promoting the digitalisation in railway transport: the themes of the UNIFE event

UNIFE hosted an online event entitled ‘Boosting railway digitalisation thanks to EU Research and Innovation’, where industry experts explored the industry’s contribution to railway digitalisation, as well as the European Green Deal. The event, part of ‘The European Year of Rail’ campaign, aimed to discuss and explore how the industry can contribute to rail digitisation. The event, part of ‘The European Year of Rail’ campaign, aimed to discuss and explore how the rail sector can leverage emerging technologies to become the backbone of the sustainable mobility model.    

  European Green Deal Climate change presents problems and threats around the world, including rising temperatures, reduced air quality and loss of biodiversity. To mitigate the impact, the European Commission has declared that Europe needs a new strategy for growth and development, transforming it into a modernised and more efficient sector. The agreement focuses on the reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050, and on economic growth decoupled from resource use, the overall aim being to ensure that the EU economy is as sustainable as possible. During the discussion, the Green Deal was presented as positive for the rail sector, allowing better monitoring of potential environmental impacts. This will allow the industry to monitor its progress and ensure that the steps it is taking reflect the objectives of the agreement.   Autonomous trains The technology surrounding autonomous and driverless trains has been explored for many years by various players in the industry. With companies such as Tesla making strides in the automotive sector, it is hoped that the railways will soon follow with the implementation of similar technologies. Train automation has several tangible benefits for both travellers and freight: it allows more trains to run and therefore be able to transport more people and goods; it allows for greater regularity of service and makes it easier to respond to possible unforeseen events. It also reduces energy consumption. All rolling stock manufacturers and integrated systems specialists are on the starting blocks to take their place in this promising market which, according to estimates, will generate between 30 and 40 billion euros in turnover between 2025 and 2050 for component manufacturers and four times that amount in the new services sector for the exploitation of collected data. Benefits of digitisation Digitisation is a buzzword within the rail industry, defined as a process that uses digital technologies to alter and change a business model, digitisation will enable the rail industry to adopt new technologies and facilitate a range of new and old processes. Increasing capacity and reducing operating costs will be the most immediate benefits brought by digitisation geared towards monitoring critical assets, proactive condition-based maintenance and more efficient calibration of maintenance intervals. Machine learning systems, on-board systems and IoT platforms will shape the way operators carry out their daily tasks, and will also frame the way passengers and goods will move in the future.In order to guarantee an excellent level of quality at all times, Ansaldo Trasporti adapts and renews its designs to accommodate all the latest safety technologies, adopting state-of-the-art components that meet the highest quality standards, including in the design and production planning process for railway systems.