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SNCF pays a visit to the Paris Air Show

Engineers from the innovation accelerator Tech4Rail participated in two events at the Paris Air Show

Engineers from the innovation accelerator Tech4Rail participated in two events at the Paris Air Show:

  • A roundtable organised by the French space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), on how the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) can be used to enable trains to determine their location themselves just as airplanes do;
  • A roundtable in which a collaborative French-German programme “Rail and Space” which will include the CNES along with DB and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) was launched. It will also focus on ways space technologies can benefit rail transport.

Another high point came on Wednesday, 19 June, when an R&D partnership contract with Airbus Defence & Space was signed by Jean-Marc Nasr, Executive Vice President, Space Systems, at Airbus, and Pierre Izard, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Rail Systems and Technologies, at SNCF. Applied research and experimental development activities will be carried out under the three-year agreement.

  • The main objective 

    To demonstrate the performance in a railway environment of an innovative positioning system that uses new technologies such as inertial units, satellite positioning (in particular the European systems Galileo and EGNOS), and merged arrays of sensors.
    The means to achieve it
    Cross-fertilization, i.e. enabling the railway sector to benefit from proven and mature technologies used in other industries. With new uses, particularly for autonomous trains, and new expectations in terms of better passenger information, optimised traffic management, and the digitalisation of infrastructure, SNCF needs to know precisely and with complete safety the location of trains on the tracks. Satisfying this need will be indispensable to the development of the future rail system.

Solutions from the aeronautics and space sector will help address these issues.


How are trains located today?

To locate trains, the railway system has always relied on track-side equipment. This system is proven and reliable, but it is expensive to install and maintain as well as sensitive to weather conditions. Moreover, it cannot be easily adapted when additional capacity is required because rail lines are divided into sections.

Read the french press release here
Find out more about geolocation technologies here