advanced TrainLab: the fastest lab on the rails

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advanced TrainLab: the fastest lab on the rails

Testing new technology directly on the train

The "fastest lab on the rails" can be identified by its silver stripe.

You can identify DB's new test train, the advanced TrainLab, by the silver stripe that has replaced the standard red one. In every other way, the train appears just like any other ICE from the outside. But once the doors open, that all changes. The train is used exclusively as a traveling lab. DB's advanced TrainLab is the first of its kind and gives the entire industry the opportunity to test future technology outside of normal rail operations.

The test train is a class 605 ICE-TD. The diesel-electric drive system means the train can be used anywhere in DB's railway network without needing to rely on power from overhead lines. The train's top speed of 200 km/h enables a wide range of tests to be conducted while the train is in motion. The 107 meter long train has an axle load of 15 metric tons. It consists of two intermediate cars and two end cars, for a large interior with plenty of room for instruments and test setups.

In the coming months, the advanced TrainLab will test sensor technology for detecting objects and obstacles and for detecting signals and the surrounding environment. Tests on real-time geolocation of trains are also planned. The advanced TrainLab could also be used to test data exchange between trains, cars and infrastructure, for example at railroad crossings, and to test environment-neutral fuel for diesel-powered rail vehicles.

Detecting obstacles on tracks reliably and in time

In March 2018, the advanced TrainLab generated quite a buzz when it made its way along the track between Berlin-Wannsee and Berlin-Lichterfelde – a section that is normally no longer in service.

DB's advanced TrainLab team and its test partner Siemens Mobility conducted test runs to evaluate sensors designed to detect objects and obstacles. They tested the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), which stops trains from running over bumping posts or obstacles on tracks. The video below shows the test train approaching a bumping post with test equipment mounted on the coupler.

Detecting obstacles on tracks reliably and in time

The purpose of the test was to help determine the best way for sensors to be integrated into the train and to test how sensors will function in different weather conditions. Initially, a camera for visible wavelengths, a radar sensor and a lidar sensor will be used to detect obstacles. Plans call for a thermal imaging camera to be added to the system later. In addition to warning of collisions, ADAS will also be used during autonomous runs to dispatch and stable trains.


5G test field: high-speed line between Nuremberg and Ingolstadt

Three cellular antennas for the new 5G network are currently installed in the test train and are being tested by DB and Ericsson as part of the 5G Connected Mobility initiative. The first measurements of the 5G network's coverage and stability have been taken on the 5G test field along the Nuremberg–Ingolstadt high-speed line. The 5G network will allow data speeds 100 times faster than the current standard. Passengers will benefit directly from interruption-free mobile internet access and indirectly from improvements to services as a result of digitalized rail operations and the associated increase in capacity.

The 5G test field along the Nuremberg–Ingolstadt high-speed line.

New splendor: tests with six paint systems

The advanced TrainLab has been given a totally new paint job as part of the testing of surface coatings. The special thing is that each car was coated with different paint systems. The companies taking part were wefa, FreiLacke, Mankiewicz, Akzo Nobel and KABE. The painting was carried out at MSG Ammendorf. For the first time on a rail vehicle, powder coatings were used on the side flaps of the train. While being highly resistant to impacts and scratches, powder coatings are especially eco-friendly in use as they do not require harmful solvents. What all the paints and coatings have in common is their promised resistance to cleaning agents and, in particular to aggressive graffiti solvents. In addition, some paints and coatings allow a reduced production time. The long-term trial is being overseen by a specialist department from DB Systemtechnik until 2023. During this time, the gloss level and color change at defined measuring points on the vehicle will be measured, documented and made available to all those taking part.

Das advanced TrainLab wurde im Zuge einer Erprobung für Oberflächenbeschichtungen rund um neu lackiert.

Sensors monitor the condition of vehicle and rails

Tests are being conducted with ZF Friedrichshafen with sensors that monitor the rails and vehicle components to enable predictive maintenance. For this purpose, the "Condition Monitoring System" employed in the advanced TrainLab combines triaxial acceleration sensors with temperature and inclination sensors. The wireless sensors detect vibration and temperature. This makes it possible for wear and damage on vehicle or infrastructure to be identified at an early stage. The system is capable, for example, of detecting flat spots on wheels and monitoring axle bearings, axles, gearboxes and engines as well as the condition of the rails. The aim is to introduce condition-based maintenance while improving the availability and reliability of the vehicle fleet.

Sensors detect wear and damage on wheels and rails.


Braking tests for optimal grip on the rails

The tests with Knorr-Bremse and DB Systemtechnik as part of the EU-funded "Shift2Rail" program are intended to optimize braking and starting acceleration under various ambient conditions. The test runs simulate different adhesion coefficients between wheel and rail. The goal is strict compliance with stopping distances through a combination of braking system and sander, for optimized interaction with customer information systems on platforms along with improved operational stability.

Strict compliance with stopping distances is tested through a combination of braking system and sander.

Alternative fuels for greater sustainability

The advanced TrainLab currently runs on a test fuel with a 33 percent content from renewable sources, without this requiring any modifications to the drive system. At the same time, tests with fuels from up to 100 percent renewable sources are taking place on an engine test rig. If successful, these fuels will be further tested in the train starting in 2020.

HVO = hydrogenated vegetable oil) , FAME = fatty acid methyl ester