Application Roadmap for the Introduction of Virtual Coupling

J. Aoun, E. Quaglietta, R.M.P. Goverde, Joern Pachl, Martin Scheidt, Bill Redfern, Marcelo Blumenfeld

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This document constitutes MOVINGRAIL Deliverable D4.3 ‘Application Roadmap for the Introduction of Virtual Coupling’ in the framework of TD2.8 of IP2 according to the Shift2Rail MultiAnnual Action plan (MAAP). This deliverable moves forward the current state of the railways by developing a long-term strategy that will enable a smooth, gradual transition towards the implementation of Virtual Coupling for various market segments.
The scope of Virtual Coupling is analysed together with the impact on the technical and operational railway system components of interlocking, communication structures, automatic train protection, automatic train operation, railway traffic planning, and railway traffic management. For each of these components main research and development challenges are derived providing an overview of knowledge gaps and critical step-changes for the development
of Virtual Coupling. A clear distinction must be made between VCTS train protection and cooperative train operation, similar to ATP and ATO but then for virtual-coupled trains. A convoy or VCTS is a vital safety system concept that allows virtual-coupled trains to follow each other up to relative braking distances. A convoy can additionally form a platoon, which is a non-vital multitrain control concept that enables (virtually-coupled) trains to move synchronously and stable
together. The cooperative train operation system guarantees stable operation in a platoon, while the VCTS train protection system supervises the relative braking distances.
A Swimlane roadmap is developed to group step-changes into different themes and categories. This is achieved by means of a quantitative-qualitative gap analysis between current and future states in the operational, technological and business domains. A survey was distributed to stakeholders to collect priorities and time orders for each of the defined steps within the Swimlane roadmap. Optimistic and pessimistic scenarios are defined for each market segment using the SWOT analysis from MOVINGRAIL D4.1 and the cost-effectiveness analysis from MOVINGRAIL D4.2. Optimistic scenarios are based on the estimates made in the ‘White Paper on Transport’ of the European Commission (EC) regarding travel demand and CO2 emissions. Pessimistic scenarios consider a lower growth in the railway demand as well as a higher increase in CO2 emissions and capital and operational costs when compared to the optimistic scenarios (specifically a 50% less increase in rail demand and 50% more increase in CO2 emissions and costs).
Scenario-based roadmaps are developed to fulfil the EC’s vision of a more competitive, capacity effective and sustainable railway by 2050. This deliverable is based on the assumption that the strategic goals set by the EC in terms of railway demand, capacity and emissions could be met if Virtual Coupling (VC) operations will be implemented within the target year 2050. Results show that all the considered scenarios and railway market segments could achieve the timely
deployment of Virtual Coupling except in the pessimistic scenario for mainline railways where VC could be deployed not earlier than 2054. Critical issues are here the longitudinal motion control systems of the Virtually Coupled Train Sets and the integrated traffic management and cooperative train operation complexity for heterogeneous trains. These scenario-based roadmaps can be used as an efficient tool for stakeholders to identify and solve potential criticalities/risks to the deployment of Virtual Coupling as well as to plan necessary investment/development actions.
The developed roadmaps provide a long-term transition strategy defining for each rail market segment a sequence of progressive upgrades to connected and automated railways that will eventually lead to the deployment of Virtual Coupling and enable a significant increase in infrastructure capacity and operation efficiency.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEuropean Commision
Number of pages74
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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