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Trapeze DAS on fast track to sustainability

Trapeze DAS

The Driving Advice Solution (DAS) system offered by public transport specialist The Trapeze Group is providing immediate, measurable, and ongoing sustainability benefits to rail operations.

The technology has already been installed on more than 163,999 train and driver applications across 80,000 kilometres of track for 20 rail operators on four continents.

This includes France, where state rail operator Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) uses the software on its signature national high-speed service, the TGV.

Recent comments by the French Minister for Transport, Clément Beaune, highlighted the importance of the energy savings that DAS has delivered on that rail network.

‘’I will be going to Montparnasse to see the highly innovative system that SNCF and RATP have put in place for what we call eco-driving,” Beaune said. “With peaks and troughs of speed, you can still reduce energy consumption.

“Eco-driving is the solution, saving energy at the same average speed. I am not asking SNCF and RATP to run trains more slowly because, as I said, we cannot make the ecological transition without rail.”

Beaune was speaking about the French government’s ‘Turn it down, turn it off, postpone it’ campaign, which aims to reduce national energy consumption. He explained the vital role that train services, including the DAS-enabled TGV, play in achieving more sustainable public transport.

“The restraint plan… does not include cancelling trains, reducing the public transport offer, slowing down our metros, trains or buses,” he said.

“The ecological transition means more trains, more public transport, more green transport, and they are part of this strategy.’’

WHAT IS DAS?

As Beaune noted in his comments to the French media, DAS does not save energy by slowing trains down.

Rather, the technology generates and continually adjusts an optimal journey profile throughout each trip and provides the driver with real-time operating advice to achieve this goal.

An onboard computer suggests when the driver should apply one of four driving modes – power, hold speed, coast, and brake – values which have been calculated according to data relating to track geometry, speed profile, timetable, train characteristics, and train position.

By holding speed and then applying power at the correct time, such as when climbing an incline, the overall energy requirements of the locomotive are reduced to a minimum and fuel is not wasted. The instruction to coast at the optimal moment saves energy in turn by reducing the need to apply the brakes on downhill sections.

When it is necessary to advise the driver to brake, this is done as efficiently as possible.

Calculating the optimal braking requirements reduces wear on trains and tracks, improving the longevity of these assets and lowering maintenance costs.

Without DAS, operational efficiency levels between drivers can vary by as much as 50 per cent with identical train configurations running on the same route.

This significant difference reflects the train driver’s challenging role and can’t be explained away by newer drivers taking time to learn their route or equipment.

Even the most experienced drivers can exhibit bad habits, with some having originally been trained to always travel at the maximum permitted track speed.

The good news for rail operators and authorities is that these inefficiencies are overcome by supporting drivers with realtime advice.

This applies to any type of train, including diesel, electric, high-speed, freight, and heavy haul locomotives.

Sharing optimised advice equips drivers with the situational awareness to challenge their preconceived instincts.

By enabling drivers to optimise their braking and acceleration, DAS reduces the amount of energy used during each journey.

This cuts rail operators’ fuel costs and significantly reduces carbon emissions.

 

The solution considers schedules, temporary speed restrictions, and on-the-day changes to provide driver advice on how to run on time.

 

PROVEN ENERGY SAVINGS

Beaune’s satisfaction with the Trapeze DAS solution, and its contribution to making train travel more sustainable, is supported by measurable outcomes.

SNCF requires approximately 9TWh(terawatt hours) of electricity every year, equating to 3 per cent of France’s entire national energy consumption.

By installing DAS on all its TGV trains, SNCF achieved annual energy consumptionefficiencies of up to 10 per cent, with approximate energy expenditure directly related to TGV trains dropping annually from€220 million to €200m.

As well as saving millions of euros in electricity costs, this made a significant contribution to achieving SNCF’s decarbonisation targets.

While the TGV is a high-speed passenger service, impressive results have also been delivered in the freight sector by New Zealand’s largest rail transport operator, KiwiRail, which services approximately 4500 kilometres of track.

Since the Trapeze team installed onboard DAS systems in KiwiRail’s 180 locomotives and trained 350 drivers to use the system, ongoing fuel costs have been reduced by around 13 per cent.

Between 2015 and 2020, the business saved approximately 17 million litres of diesel, worth tens of millions of dollars, and reduced its annual energy usage by 39 GWh.

KiwiRail’s annual carbon emissions also fell 15 per cent from 272,345 CO2-e tonnes in2015/16, to 230,036 CO2-e tonnes in 2019/20.

Experienced locomotive engineer, Robin Simmons, is a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the rail industry.

He was instrumental in KiwiRail’s adoption of DAS technology in 2014, despite his initial scepticism of the predicted fuel consumption saving of around five per cent.

“I eventually agreed to help, provided I was permitted to evaluate the product without anyone trying to influence me or push me in any particular direction,” he said.

“Initial testing … led to about 10 per cent savings on energy year on year.”

In 2016, following the implementation of DAS, KiwiRail won the prestigious Deloitte Energy Excellence award, based on the greenhouse gas reductions and fuel savings achieved.