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Expert partners for remote-controlled trains

SNCF, the Technological Research Institute (IRT) Railenium, Thales, Actia Telecom, and the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) have launched TéléConduite sur Rail (TC-Rail), a 42-month project to demonstrate the feasibility of operating a train remotely by a driver on the ground while maintaining a very high level of safety.

SNCF, IRT Railenium, Thales, Actia Telecom, and the CNES go together on Wednesday, 18 October, in Saint-Denis, on the SNCF technological renewal stage to launch the TC-Rail (TéléConduite sur Rail) project, in which two demonstrators of a train that can be driven from a remote site will be built.

Remote driving is an essential building block for the future autonomous train, as it will allow control of the train to be taken over from a distance in certain anomalous situations. It is based on communication between the train and a remote site and requires the development of a man-machine interface (MMI) for remote driving.

The aim in this project will be to remove the main technical obstacles that stand in the way of safely operating trains in this manner.

SNCF is expecting a demonstrator for one type of use by early 2019. Ultimately, however, remote driving will have to be adapted to all uses, though moving trains (freight, TER, Transilien, and TGV) to and from maintenance centres might be possible with remote driving in the medium term.

Implementing a complete remote driving system requires numerous competencies, both industrial and academic. The TC-Rail project consortium reflects this. It includes:

  • The final client, SNCF, which will provide technical coordination and coordination of the demonstration packages for evaluation under real conditions of the systems developed in the project;
  • Railenium, with its own resources and a solid network of associated researchers from the laboratories of the IFSTTAR, the UTC, and the universities of Lille1 and Valenciennes), which will bring its expertise in areas such as MMIs for remote driving, landline communications, safety, and cybersecurity;
  • Thales, which will provide expertise in ground–train telecommunication and subjects related to operational security and cybersecurity gained in its innovative work on autonomous trains;
  • Actia Telecom, which will contribute its know-how in the field of satellite communications;
  • And the CNES, which will bring its expertise and technical support in the field of satellite systems.