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Real-time yard and network management - S2R-OC-IP5-01-2017
Deadline: Mar 30, 2017  

 IT Applications
 Mobile technology
 Urban transport
 Horizon Europe
 Industrial Engineering

Specific challenge: 

Within the challenges highlighted in the IP5 part of the Shift2Rail Master Plan, the following specific challenges should be addressed by the proposed action for this topic: 

Real-time yard and network management will guarantee on-time delivery and operational efficiency in particular in single wagon transport. The challenge however consists in providing a consistent set of data describing the processes and resource allocation in the yard and the surrounding railway network in real-time. An essential requirement of this call will thus be the modelling of the yard in a relevant network eco system, and an intelligent real-time simulation which generates the optimal disposition decisions and recommendations for resource utilisation in real time. 

Innovation in real-time network management, as an extension of real-time yard management, will rely on improved decision support in ad-hoc timetable planning to optimize operational processes that connect freight traffic in yards and terminals with timetable slots to and from the network. A challenge of this call therefore is to model the data management processes of an existing network in appropriate simulation systems and to develop optimization algorithms. Processes incl. interaction between infrastructure manager and railway undertakings, need to be simulated for disturbances, sensitive freight, priority freight, dangerous goods etc. 

The flow of data towards the terminals must fulfil the requirements defined in TAF TSI regulation and profit of the existence of a standardised set of messages in place, the TAF TSI XML catalogue. Moreover, new developments for tracking wagons and loading status shall take into account existing platforms at EU level implementing TAF TSI (ISR – RAILDATA). 

Scope: The activities should cover both work streams described below, in line with the Shift2Rail Multi-Annual Action Plan (MAAP): 

Within the work stream 1 (TD5.2) related to “real-time yard management” proposals should address all the following elements: 

 definition and selection of suitable methods for data analytics and data management; 

 design and selection of a suitable simulation environment for real-time yard management in marshalling yards; 

 development of detailed functional and technical specifications of selected simulation environment including interfaces with real-time network management and IT production fulfilment system (in the IT domain modal for rail freight, following the sales of a service, production planning is followed by production disposition, which is then realized in production fulfilment); 

 development of framework conditions and algorithms for disposition of resources in yards in real-time and adaptation of existing simulation systems according to the results of specification; 

 testing of simulation system in a production-like test and training environment focussing on one up to three existing complex European marshalling yards; 

 performing feasibility test of real-time capabilities of the simulation system according to defined test cases, applicable to today’s operation in single-wagon load and block train transport. 


The activity is expected to provide a fully functional software module, running successfully as a technical demonstrator in a production-like test environment and providing concrete and validated optimal decision support for dispatchers in yards, with a link to network management. The optimization module and algorithms must be proven for large and complex yard infrastructures, and integrate well with activities towards yard automation, e.g. intelligent assets and automated shunting in yards. 

The scope of activities of the work stream 2 (TD5.2) regarding “real-time network management” should build upon real-time yard management activities described above and include: 

 describing strategies how to follow up the roll-out of real-time yard management by means of optimization of Traffic Management up- and down-stream of these yards to cover end-to-end traffic information and traffic management in the network in real-time; 

 modelling of an existing network including the simulation of yards managed in real-time to develop algorithms that can improve decision support and increase automation in ad-hoc timetable planning and operational train traffic for freight traffic between departure terminals/ nodes and arrival terminals/nodes covering the whole transport chain; 

 specifying improved information and communication channels between infrastructure managers, railway undertakings and entrepreneurs responsible for infrastructure work; 

 building on the results of past EU projects (RNE tools) and in accordance with the existing regulations TAF TSI and TAP TSI, development of an improved decision support in ad-hoc timetable planning to optimize operational processes that connect freight traffic in yards and terminals with timetable slots to and from the network. In this respect, the activities should develop appropriate simulation systems and optimization algorithms; 

 processes need to be developed for dealing with minor perturbations and also for bigger disturbances. 


The activity is expected to provide an extended, fully functional simulation model where beyond real-time yard management, interactions with the network and ad-hoc timetable planning will be simulated in real-time. The optimization module and algorithms must be proven for large and complex freight transport networks, and integrate well with IP5 activities towards automation, e.g. intelligent assets and automated shunting and mainline operations. 

The following topic is expected to be complementary to this topic: S2R-CFM-IP5-01-2017: Real-time information applications and energy efficient solutions for rail freight. 

The action that is expected to be funded under this topic will also be complementary to the actions funded within the following topics: 

 S2R-CFM-IP5-02-2015: Start-up activities for Freight Automation 

 S2R-OC-IP5-01-2015: Freight automation on lines and in yards. 


As specified in section 2.3.1 of S2R AWP for 2017, in order to facilitate the contribution to the achievement of S2R objectives, the options regarding 'complementary grants' of the S2R Model Grant Agreement and the provisions therein, including with regard to additional access rights to background and results for the purposes of the complementary grant(s), will be enabled in the corresponding S2R Grant Agreements. 

Expected impacts: 

The foreseen research activities are expected to contribute to the development of automation and digitalization of monitoring and decision processes along the supply chain of single wagon transport (wagon load system). Based on an advanced simulation approach the expected impacts of a real-time yard management in combination with an interaction real-time network management would lead to improved punctuality, system efficiency and competitiveness of single wagon transport. 

Moreover the activities are expected to lead to: 

 improved automation in decision support for ad-hoc timetable planning and operational traffic; 

 more flexible and competitive freight traffic by reduced travel times and reduced dwell times in yards, terminals and nodes of the system; 

 improvement of punctuality of deliveries and most accurate estimated time of arrival due to real-time forecast and automation of disposition processes in yards and nodes of the system; 

 increased flexibility and cost competitiveness for single-wagon load and block train transport; 

 optimized traffic management and traffic flow due to ad-hoc timetable planning based on real-time information from yards and from the network; 

 safer operation of dangerous goods in yards. 


Specific metrics and methods to measure and achieve impacts should be included in the proposals, with the objective to achieve by the end of the S2R Programme the quantitative and qualitative targets defined in the S2R MAAP related to TD5.2 in line with the relative Planning and Budget. 

Type of action: Research and innovation actions 

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