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Safer railroad crossings with ESA satellites

  20.03.2013    

Berner & Mattner has been awarded a contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) to perform the feasibility study "SafeRail - Improving Safety at Railway Level Crossings". The study, which is carried out within ESA’s Integrated Applications Promotion Program, is looking for ways to improve the safety at Railway Level Crossings by a viable and sustainable integrated solution and associated services using different types of space assets such as Telecommunications, Earth Observation and Navigation, with existing terrestrial assets.
The potential risk of railway level crossings as an intersection of two different traffic modes is very high. A quarter of all railroad fatalities are caused by accidents at railway level crossings. Due to the high variety of existing technical safety systems, efficient modernization of the current systems is at the same time very difficult.
Berner & Mattner and the European Space Agency have now signed a contract to evaluate the added value and feasibility of introducing space assets for improving the safety at railway level crossings.
The objective of the SafeRail study is to determine the technical feasibility and economic viability of a space-based service using an integrated solution which employs different types of space assets in combination with already existing terrestrial technologies. Considered technical means range from determining railroad vehicles position using relative measurements carried out by the railroad company and by satellite navigation to redundant terrestrial and satellite communication and integrated traffic information systems that provide the driver with suitable information.
During preparation of the study, support agreements with several relevant European users and stakeholders have been established. For better understanding of their needs and constraints, a user workshop will be executed in March 2013. The results of the study will be presented to the user community during an Awareness Event.
As developer of complex, safety-relevant systems with long-standing industry experience in the automotive and railroad/transportation sectors, Berner & Mattner has qualified to perform this ESA activity as prime contractor. The engineering teams of Berner & Mattner are dealing with railroad and road-related issues such as railway approval requirements or standards for Car-to-X communication. With the Austrian companies Brimatech Services, JOANNEUM RESEARCH and Teleconsult Austria and the UK based Avanti Communications the study team furthermore includes project partners in the areas of satellite communication and navigation as well as economic and non-economic technology assessment.
The SafeRail study is funded by ESA's Integrated Application Promotion program (IAP or ARTES 20). The ARTES 20 programme, in close partnership with end-users, is dedicated to the development, implementation and pilot operations of Integrated Applications that will lead to sustainable services. The goal is to provide innovative added value to services by combining different space assets, such as Telecommunications, Earth Observation, Navigation, and Human Spaceflight technologies, and by integrating them with existing terrestrial assets.


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