The tram as a platform for an intelligent ecosystem
The Tampere tramway, planned to start operating in 2021, is the result of patient and multi-faceted cooperation. The project started with Љkoda Transtech’s desire to create an intelligent, next-generation tram. A development project was launched with suppliers from all over Europe providing state-of-the-art technology.
Škoda Transtech Ltd is in charge of designing and building the rolling stock for the Tampere tramway as well as integrating the systems installed in the trams.
Tampere trams will contain an unprecedented amount of technology and equipment from various suppliers. The steering system, for example, will arrive from Plzeň, the Czech Republic, whereas the door system will be delivered by a Tampere-based supplier. All in all, the tram will feature 120 networked units. When running on tracks, the sensors installed on the tram will constantly collect data for the operating and maintenance units of both the infrastructure and the rolling stock. Timely operations and harmonious networking require communication between different intelligent units, such as the use of extremely precise location data in tram processes. The seamless integration of several data sources creates an opportunity to develop the passenger experience. The passenger information system, for instance, will offer passengers dynamically detailed information on the route and schedule of the tram.
Cinia will use a software-defined network to implement telecommunication links for the tramway set to start its operations next year. Thanks to the telecommunications solution, information will travel securely and reliably inside the tram as well as in and out of the tram.
Cinia has worked on telecommunications for rolling stock for a very long time, especially in bus traffic. In the tramway project, we decided to develop the existing service even further with out IP design team. The comprehensive solution we built for Transtech is focused around a system that independently performs various necessary tram functions, such as coordinating the units of different operators as a whole at the vehicle level. We use a single device to produce a diverse firewall and networking service in the tram, a unique tram location service as well as a passenger information system. Simultaneous use of several satellite constellations and RTK (Real Time Kinematic) correction will be used for the location data. This improves location accuracy to about one centimetre. The location is checked and updated ten times a second.
COVID-19 pandemic brings an extra challenge to implementation
The implementation process includes approval testing as well as testing the electrical, compressed air, hydraulic and electronic systems to ensure that they function without errors. The implementation stage is critically important and challenging on its own, but the COVID-19 pandemic nearly delayed the implementation as well as the entire tramway project.
Various suppliers have delivered pieces of state-of-the-art technology for the trams built at the Transtech plant in Kajaani, and all the pieces and units must be properly configured in the implementation stage. The COVID-19 crisis introduced travel restrictions, preventing suppliers from accessing the Transtech plant, which is why the only option was to carry out the implementation using remote connections.
The company requested our help. We started to investigate the options for creating a remote connection to any networked unit in the tram. One of the requirements was that each supplier should only be allowed to access their own devices. With the help of software-defined execution and Cinia’s remote access service, we were able to offer Transtech a system enabling a constant remote connection to all the units, which will make it easy to add new features and updates in the future as well.
The remote implementation of the devices will create considerable cost savings, not to mention operational agility. Our solution proved to be strong and functional, enabling remote implementation without the need for unnecessary hassle. In the remote implementation, the Љkoda software team in Љkoda, the Czech Republic, opens a remote connection to the tram being implemented, while the local team of electromechanical specialists in Tampere tests the tram systems and works on connections and the tests required for the implementation. Several other Transtech system suppliers also follow this procedure with their new remote connection through Cinia’s remote access service.
The goal of the SmartRail ecosystem is to create solutions to improve the safety and flexibility of rail transport.
Ecosystem for various interfaces
The tramway project has also given rise to the SmartRail ecosystem, the second innovation stage of which was launched in February 2020. The goal of the project is to implement the best tram in the world in terms of passenger and lifecycle services and to create solutions to improve the safety and flexibility of rail transport. The urban environment of Tampere will be opened as a testing platform for working towards this goal.
The ecosystem enables the continuous development of MAAS services (Mobility as a Service) as well as the introduction of new solutions and technology in multi-channel public transport. The passenger information system, for example, will be developed to produce accurate information on congested trams, delays or even the number of prams on board. The telecommunications solution built by Cinia enables adding various sensors and devices as part of a university research project, for instance.
Our solution for the Transtech trams can be applied to any public transport, both on the road and on rails.
Photo: Pasi Tiitola, Tampereen Raitiotie Oy