Brigitte Hafner
is a communicator in the Rail Cargo Group
Read all posts

RCG Inside

Railways simply explained: Brake test

Before every departure of a freight train, a brake test is carried out. But do you know why this is necessary and how it is related to the freight train’s intelligence?

A brake test is a decisive safety measure in rail freight traffic and involves checking the functionality of the entire brake system. It is carried out after each train has been formed. The brake test is also used to adjust the brake weight of a freight train. In turn, the brake weight is decisive for calculating the stopping distance. In order to be able to stop within the specified stopping distance, a certain braking efficiency must be achievable. Specialists are currently working on automating the brake test and thus train preparation. Digitisation is also finding its way into freight transport and is making rapid progress. This makes it all the more important to standardise, digitise and subsequently automate operating and production processes.

More safety through automated processes

Brake tests are currently carried out manually. For each newly formed train, for example, the brakes are checked for functionality by our employees directly on the wagon before departure. This is to be done automatically in the future – under the aspect of higher safety. Since 2017, SBB Cargo and PJ Messtechnik have been working with us on the development of semi-automated train preparation and in-train communication. Train drivers will then be able to test the brakes directly in the driver’s cab using a tablet. Both the function and mode of operation of the brakes can be seen at a glance. The sensors and electronic components mounted on the wagon allow the newly developed digital communication solutions. And thereby an automated, thus simpler, faster and also safer brake test.

Automated processes are the cornerstone of simpler, faster and also safer brake testing and thus partially automate train preparation. © ÖBB_David Payr

 

The first pilot train has been traversing Switzerland since August 2017. The test phase in Austria began in April 2018. This pilot project is a milestone in the technological development of rail freight transport. The innovation partnership for intelligent freight trains is now growing to include an additional partner in the network. With the participation of Mercitalia Rail, the test area now extends to Italy in addition to Switzerland and Austria. The common goal is to create a basis for a new standard of in-train communication. The cooperation focuses on the use of uniform systems and standards throughout Europe.

Complete safety in rail traffic is of paramount importance. Intelligent freight cars are networked through automated production processes. © ÖBB_David Payr