MOVINGRAIL M18 project meeting
The MOVINGRAIL project held its 18-month consortium meeting on 11th and 12th June, using Zoom again as we continue to work remotely during what we hope are the last few months of the Covid-19 lockdown. The first day comprised the overall progress meeting; the second day was the industrial advisory board meeting, and we were treated to some interesting Zoom backgrounds!
The progress meeting discussed the progress towards the project’s deliverables despite challenges faced by the lock-down and issues due to complementary project outputs. Points of note during the work package updates included the rapid change taking place within telecommunications and the need for direct communications – i.e. vehicle-to-vehicle communications, which could be available by making use of 5G networks with appropriate antennae and transmitter/receiver at each end of the train.
Meanwhile, the business analysis for virtual coupling indicates capacity increases for each market segment (high-speed, mainline, regional, urban and freight). A detailed simulation of a UK mainline corridor showed greatest capacity gains of virtual coupling over moving block for stopping trains with platooning. A multi-criteria analysis, incorporating costs, capacity, system stability, travel demand, energy, safety, public acceptance and regularity approval, indicated that virtual coupling performs better than moving block solutions, across all rail sectors, provided that the technology maturity level of virtual coupling would catch up with that of moving block. The various criteria were weighted by importance weights obtained from subject matter experts using a hybrid Delphi-AHP method, where safety turned out by far the most important criterion.
The following day’s advisory board meeting challenged the project members on their findings and encouraged the way forward. The participants discussed the importance of project findings aligning with the real world and the challenges involved in achieving an operational version of the project outcomes, including the importance of cost-effective testing and appropriate simulations (including hardware-in-the-loop).