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Innovation and digitalisation: Arriving safely and on time

Norske tog embraces new technological solutions in order to provide the best possible service. Combined with its unique expert knowledge of the Norwegian rail system, selecting the best technological solutions means Norske tog is well equipped to discharge its social function

Norske tog has increased its investments in advanced technology so as to contribute to an even safer and more punctual Norwegian rail network for the passengers’ benefit. The key objectives of the company’s technology strategy are to ensure reliable vehicles and a high level of safety, limit greenhouse gas and environmental emissions, standardise the fleet, and make sure maintenance can be carried out as efficiently as possible.

How does the company do this? Achieving these goals requires Norske tog to keep continually up to date with new innovations in the market: not just in the form of new trains but also by embracing new solutions for use in existing trains.

Norske tog shall perform a facilitator role in enabling the train operating companies to offer the best possible public transport service. In this way, the company plays a part in passengers choosing to use public transport. Achieving these goals also requires Norske tog to choose the right technology to meet new needs

As technology develops, Norske tog continually assesses the need for new systems. The company has started work to install new on-board equipment in connection with Bane NOR’s introduction of the new ERTMS digital signalling system. Norske tog also intends to procure a train-monitoring system: Online Condition Monitoring (OCM).

The following sections provide more detail on the advantages the two systems offer.

New digital signalling system

In 2018, Norske tog entered into an agreement for delivery of on-board equipment for a new digital signalling system – European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) – which will be able to increase capacity, reduce signalling errors and increase punctuality on the rail network.

ERTMS is a common European system initiated by the EU that will standardise signalling and traffic management on railways throughout Europe. In the long term, this will lead to a common system that makes it easier for trains to cross national borders.

The infrastructure company Bane NOR has negotiated the contract and is responsible for the new signalling system. However, much of the equipment has to be installed in the trains, something which falls within Norske tog’s remit. This collaborative undertaking requires the development of a new, innovative interface so as to be able to coordinate the process and ensure that the system works, both on the trains and the infrastructure.

The new digital signalling system has several advantages compared with present-day signalling technology:

  • Lower maintenance costs for signalling and interlocking systems.
  • Better and faster information for train operating companies.
  • Fewer signalling errors affecting rail traffic; the upgrade will lead to more predictable and punctual rail traffic.
  • Increased automation, reducing the likelihood of human error and thus increasing safety.
  • The automation inherent in the system also paves the way for self-driving trains in the future.

The new ERTMS signalling system has already been tested on the eastern section of the Østfold Railway. The experience gained and feedback received bode well for what we can expect as the signalling system is gradually rolled out.

In the next few years, Norske tog will invest approximately NOK 1.1 billion in on-board solutions to adapt the trains to the new digital signalling system. The aim is for the new signalling system to be in operation on all Norwegian trains in 2026. By 2030, it is intended to cover the entire Norwegian rail network.

Condition monitoring of the trains

The ever-growing potential offered by condition monitoring has prompted Norske tog to explore the opportunities available. Information on and analysis of trains and passenger patterns will provide valuable insight to be able to ensure punctuality, better schedules and a better passenger experience.

Norske tog intends to procure a digital tool to monitor data on the condition of its trains: Online Condition Monitoring (OCM). OCM will be necessary to safeguard the value of assets and to identify which subsystems are performing well and which badly. Taken as a whole, the increased knowledge this provides will help to optimise operations, and with future procurements of new trains and follow-up of warranty issues. The data will be able to be used to diagnose and warn where faults will occur – before they happen.

In the long term, an OCM system will enable Norske tog to offer the train operating companies unique insight on the future condition of the trains, including evidence of developing faults. For the train operating companies, this means fewer problems and increased punctuality, which will benefit their customers – the passengers. In total: more railway for the money.