Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand)

International success story

RATP has been utilising digitalisation solutions across the globe to improve reliability of networks and is keen to test its solutions during the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

For the past century, RATP’s history has been marked by major breakthroughs and ambitious development efforts to improve service quality for passengers and create sustainable and safer mobility solutions, such as automated metros, on which it started trials as early as 1952.

This spirit of innovation has been passed along to its international branch, RATP Dev, actively involved in transforming transportation infrastructures worldwide, including in Australia, Hong-Kong, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, France and the United States, and in exploring the key topic of digitalisation.

With more than 837 million trips operated annually worldwide, RATP Dev considers digitalisation as a key strategic lever to support public transport authorities in achieving their goals and accelerate the deployment of new innovations for an enhanced travel experience for passengers.

Effective data management to provide better value for passengers

With the rise of connected objects, sensors and information systems, the volume of data created or replicated worldwide has increased by more than 30 per cent in the past decade, and is expected to grow by an average of almost 40 per cent a year by 2025.

RATP Dev aims to support public authorities in their understanding and exploitation of their various data sources, which can be a powerful lever to improve service quality and customer satisfaction. Beyond public transport data, RATP Dev relies on open data to ethically combine multiple sources, including operations, maintenance, and passengers’ data along with local information related to urban planning, air quality or even the cultural agenda.

The company has developed data management solutions to optimise operational performance, offering improved reliability and services to passengers at lower exploitation costs, such as Maint’Up, an IoT-powered maintenance solution.

This SaaS solution collects, centralises and analyses the data available from all equipment (rolling stocks, infrastructure and stations) in order to optimise operations and maintenance and facilitate the work of teams on a daily basis. Operators and maintenance teams can remotely analyse the state of equipment, instantly identify incidents on the network for a coordinated response and track data such as energy consumption much more efficiently.

Since its deployment, Maint’Up has already strongly improved the operational efficiency of the trams network in Angers (France) and is currently experimented on Paris regional trains network. In Angers, a reduction of 8 per cent in the energy consumed by the tram rolling stock has been achieved since the end of 2022 due to precise monitoring of the energy consumed by the rolling stock in Maint’Up.

Another solution addressing the imperative for secure and centralised operational information management is SafeTracker. The platform provides access to detailed, up-to-date, and reliable data, including information on incidents and team management. It also serves as an operational assistant, enhancing communications between departments, streamlining staff reports, and centralising the work permits process. It has been successfully implemented across various networks operated by RATP Dev, including the Gautrain’s commuter rail in South Africa, Cairo’s railway in Egypt, or sightseeing buses in Europe.

The SaaS solution collects, centralises, and analyses the data available from all equipment. Images/RATP

CITiO, an innovative company under RATP Dev has been involved in leveraging data to optimise public transportation. With CITiO Fraud Tracker, the pilot city of Creil near Paris has been able to fight effectively against fare evasion, recording a +20 per cent increase in penalty tickets. Simultaneously, CITiO Rail Analytics focuses on optimising rolling stock and journey management. The subsidiary also explores the exploitation of data-driven insights to support real-time adaptation of transport networks, through passengers’ flow management in stations and associated optimised staff and equipment’s allocation.

These solutions showcase RATP Dev’s ability to transform public transportation through digitalisation, which the company aims to keep doing in Australia, through the Western Sydney Airport project first, and aims to bring to the Surburban Rail Loop and Sydney Metro West.

Pursuing digitalisation innovations for enhanced performance

Digitalisation also offers new opportunities to improve performance and optimise maintenance. RATP Dev is particularly focused on leveraging predictive maintenance to enhance the service quality and reliability of rolling stock, station equipment, fixed installations and infrastructure. Data gathered from sensors built into trains and tracks now make it possible to find out the health status of assets in real time, and throughout their life cycles. Predictive maintenance can detect rail defects or anticipate breakdowns on sliding doors on automated metro lines, it can also use data to accurately predict temperature peaks likely to distort rails three days in advance, thus representing a true industrial revolution for enhanced service quality and safety of passengers, personnel and contractors. 

Predictive maintenance also opens promising fields of exploration for cost optimisation of asset life and sustainability of the industry, as it will be instrumental to extend the life of equipment. In Paris, where the RATP Group has internalised almost all maintenance services, it intends to equip 30 per cent of its metro lines with predictive maintenance solutions by 2026. The implementation of predictive maintenance on the doors of RER A commuter train line has already led to a 50 per cent reduction in faulty doors, while the experimentation of a system that detects rail fissures via ultrasound waves has given positive results.

RATP also explores the development of digital twins for infrastructures, rolling stocks and maintenance workshops. The large amount of data available can be processed to create 3D virtual clones of structures. Through 3D simulation, procedures and decision-making can be optimised over the entire project life cycle: validation of feasibility, prototyping, adaptation, upgrades, predictive maintenance, and so forth. For example, virtual simulation applied to real estate, maintenance sites and mobility can make it possible to test automated driving technologies on a large scale over billions of virtual kilometres. These innovations allow the company to pursue continuous improvement of assets and services while minimising the impact on daily operations and passengers.

Exploring AI to provide the modern customer experience

As Paris awaits 15 million visitors for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, data-driven insights will be a key tool to enable efficient staff resource allocation and offer a seamless journey to passengers. One solution currently implemented in Paris is DetectAI, which detects passengers remaining on trains at the terminus of automated metros while responding to personal data protection requirements, improving metros availability. Moreover, international travelers can benefit with TradivIA from instant translation solutions, for audio as well as screen updates. Affluence also leverages AI to track and smooth traffic flow, through the counting of passengers in real time on platforms and the suggestion of alternative routes, as well as accurate information on onboard occupation of arriving trains. RATP Dev’s goal is to create an inclusive travel experience for everyone, especially visitors unfamiliar with the network, by offering the latest customer innovations. The company aims at implementing these solutions on other international networks as well, especially metro lines servicing large-scale events such as Sydney Metro West.

As RATP Dev’s core objective is the continuous improvement of the services and functionalities offered to passengers. Technologies are constantly being explored, tested, deployed. RATP Dev’s innovation lab
in Casablanca developed the Walk in Peace app to enhance safety in public transport, which will be deployed on the Western Sydney Airport project. 

Other innovations under investigation are the implementation of a Chatbot for enhanced efficiency in passengers inquiries, or a new digital solution for stop requesting onboard buses for passenger with disabilities.

RATP Dev remains committed to advancing digitalisation, incorporating predictive maintenance, advanced technologies, and AI applications. RATP Dev’s ambition is to showcase its ability to leverage digitalisation to deliver operational excellence, asset optimisation and increase customer satisfaction.