The Anonymous Widower

Consortium To Develop Low-Cost Operations To Revive France’s Local Lines

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This was the first paragraph.

Thales has joined forces with a group of companies and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Council to develop innovative digital signalling and operations with a view to cutting the cost of running trains on lightly-used rural lines.

When I first read this article, I immediately thought, that the French problem is similar to problems we have in the UK, and I’ve also seen in other countries in Europe like Germany and The Netherlands.

The French consortium are looking at these technologies.

  • Platform-agnostic, autonomous train positioning and odometry without trackside infrastructure.
  • Cyber-secured data transmission via public telecommunications networks.
  • High-density digital terrain mapping.
  • Formal methods of generating safety data.
  • A tablet-based supervision and operations interface for drivers.
  • Integrated surveillance of level crossings.
  • Network surveillance using sensors mounted on rail vehicles.

Thales says that the technology ‘will be fully interoperable with the core network and promises to reduce investment and operating costs by more than 30%’. Apart from reviving rural railways, it will improve safety, ‘especially at level crossings’, the company said.

As someone, who was designing and installing automation on heavy machinery nearly sixty years ago, I feel the French are on the right track.

I have a few thoughts.

Could Drone And/Or Missile Guidance Technology Be Used?

It should be noted that Thales Air Defence are a company who manufacture several successful missiles including the NLAW. They are also a subsidiary pf Thales Group, who are leading the French rural rail consortium.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find, that Thales have access to loads of applicable technology.

Could Drivers Use A Tablet To Drive The Train?

I don’t see why not!

The Elizabeth Line has been designed to use auto-reverse to speed up operations at Paddington, which I wrote about in Crossrail Trains Will Have Auto-Reverse.

I suspect that the driver has a simple controller to monitor the reversing train and stop it in an emergency.

Integrated Surveillance Of Level Crossings

Whoever solves this tricky problem will do the railways of the world a big service.

Network Surveillance Using Sensors Mounted On Rail Vehicles

This is starting to happen all over the world.


I think that the results of this French study will be felt worldwide.

November 11, 2022 - Posted by | Computing, Transport/Travel | , , ,

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