Demonstration activities are a priority within Shift2Rail, as they enable the entire rail sector to visualise and concretely test the transformations that they are able to bring about. Demonstrations also enable a more appropriate quantification of the impact of each new technology (either alone or combined with other innovations). Demonstration activities also help provide a first estimate of the anticipated potential for sector improvement (at regional, national and EU transport network levels) as a result of the developed innovations.
It is also vital that in the next decade the rail industry demonstrates a tangible step change which is visible to the public and generates interest in the railway domain. In addition, the realisation of key flagship demonstrations is expected to enhance the perceived innovation potential of the sector and revitalise the industry by attracting the next generation of top graduates from universities across Europe.
Furthermore, the development of collaborative demonstrators will foster internal industry communication and collaboration. Shift2Rail will also promote the realisation of Integrated Technology Demonstrators (ITDs), which will combine the testing of different solutions in a single demonstrator, thereby achieving economies of scale for the project development. This will allow a more collaborative system approach towards innovation, breaking down possible silos between subsystems developers. It will also help early-stage identification of possible compatibility issues in the integration of different solutions.
The demonstration of technical achievements, up to TRL 7, will be based on the threefold architecture presented in Figure 3 below: Technology Demonstrators (TDs), ITDs and System Platform Demonstrators (SPDs).
TDs will focus on the development or adoption of innovative technologies and models within the rail subsystems identified in the IPs. They will pave the way for groundbreaking progress in key areas such as traction, automatic train operation and intelligent diagnosis and maintenance systems, while seeking inspiration from innovative technologies, materials and methods used or explored in other sectors. The innovations developed may consist of software and/or hardware systems.
Before being combined into ITDs, each TD will be tested (in labs on test benches, or existing trains) in one or more prototypes (differentiated if different business segments are addressed) to assess the individual performance of the technologies thus developed. Where possible, compliance with the technical requirements of the product being developed will be demonstrated.
ITDs will allow for the testing of combinations of components and subsystems already verified and validated within the TDs within virtual or physical railway environments, for demonstrating the innovation potential of the components in different subsystems and systems. Functional and operational specifications and technical interfaces across the various TDs will be taken into account.
ITDs will also enable the analysis of compliance with the regulatory requirements; the validation of technologies will be followed up with a controlled approach to future authorisation and certification work.
Ultimately, Shift2Rail will carry out proof and analysis of rail systems, design and functions on fully representative innovative railway configurations in an integrated environment, simulating real operational conditions.
To simulate and test the interaction and impact of the various systems in different rail market segments, demonstration platforms are proposed that will cover high-speed/mainline passenger rail, regional passenger rail, urban/suburban passenger rail and rail freight. The choice of demonstration platforms is geared to the most promising and appropriate market opportunities, to ensure the best and most rapid exploitation of Shift2Rail’s results.