European research projects

The projects funded by the European Commission include:

  • NGTC (Next Generation Train Control), to develop future railway and metro traffic control systems, in which Ansaldo STS played a leading role in the satellite positioning work package and actively participated in the definition of the “IP Communication”; the project was concluded in the third quarter of the year;
  • MANTIS, funded by the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (public-private party that disburses European Commission funds for innovating embedded systems) and by the Ministry of Research, whose goal is to increase knowledge of the decision-making process for the railway system maintenance;
  • IN2RAIL, in connection with the Shift2Rail initiative; the project goal is to optimise the railway infrastructure by cutting its construction and maintenance costs and increasing its capacity. 


The Shift2Rail project

With regard to European research, the Shift2Rail project began in the latter part of 2016. The initiative’s main goals are:

  • to double the capacity of the European rail network;
  • to improve reliability and quality of service by 50%;
  • to halve the costs over the entire life cycle.

 challenge for “smart, green & integrated” transport.

Ansaldo STS is a founding member of this “joint undertaking”, involving another 7 founding members, 19 associates and 32 member states of the European Union for a total investment of approximately EUR 450 million.

As part of this research programme, the following projects are currently being carried out with the participation of Ansaldo STS:

  • CONNECTA – CONtributing to Shift2Rail's NExt generation of high Capable and safe TCMS and brAkes – which aims to contribute to the next generation of TCMS architecture and components with wireless capabilities, as well as to the upcoming generation of electronic braking systems;
  • X2RAIL1 – Start-up activities for Advanced Signalling and Automation Systems – whose goal is to meet the long-term requirements of a future, flexible and smart traffic management system;
  • IN2SMART – Intelligent Innovative Smart Maintenance of Assets by integRated Technologies - which aims to provide an innovative holistic solution for railway asset maintenance;
  • ATTRACkTIVE – Advanced Travel Companion & Tracking Services – whose purpose is to improve the travel experience of passengers who use railway transportation systems by developing an integrated solution;
  • FR8RAIL – Development of functional requirements for sustainable and attractive European rail freight – intended to take on the major challenges for developing sustainable and attractive rail freight traffic in Europe;
  • PLASA– Smart Planning and Safety for a safer and more robust European railway sector – whose objective is to enhance the customer experience and the robustness of the system in the European railway sector. On the one hand, the objectives regard the improvement of the planning activities of the various railway system operators through railway simulation and, on the other, the provision of a methodology for managing railway system safety based on risk assessment;
  • IMPACT-1 – Indicator Monitoring for a new railway PAradigm in seamlessly integrated Cross modal Transport chains: Phase 1 – the creation of an integrated subsystem which represents all Shift2Rail innovations;
  • ARCC – Automated Rail Cargo Consortium – in relation to freight traffic.

In early September the programme was extended to include the following projects:

  • IN2STEMPO – Innovative Solutions in Future Stations, Energy Metering and Power Supply – aiming to define solutions for the management of smart energy systems and future solutions for stations;
  • CONNECTIVE – Connecting and Analysing the Digital Transport Ecosystem – which will define a new level of interoperability and access to services and transport data systems in a multi-modal environment;
  • FR8HUB – Real-time information applications and energy efficient solutions for rail freight – which aims to increase the quota of freight stock on rolling stock thanks to the increased efficiency of the transport systems, with particular reference to terminals and hubs;
  • IMPACT-2 – Indicator Monitoring for a new railway PAradigm in seamlessly integrated Cross modal Transport chains: Phase 2 – aiming to assess and increase the effects on mobility and the environment of the technological solutions and the developments made in the context of the Shift2Rail project;
  • X2RAIL-2 – Enhancing railway signalling systems based on train satellite positioning; on-board safe train Integrity; formal methods approach and standard interfaces, enhancing Traffic Management System functions – which aims to promote innovation in the signalling field (introduction of satellite technology and train integrity), supervision (Traffic Management evolution) and the management of development processes (Introduction of Formal Methods).



Other initiatives funded by the European Commission include the satellite technology projects. First and foremost there is ERSAT EAV, of which Ansaldo STS is project coordinator. Its objective is to adopt and characterise satellite technologies for railway signalling applications, with particular reference to checking the suitability of EGNSS/EGNOS technology and the new Galileo services to be used in ERTMS signalling. Furthermore, audits have been carried out to assess the Open and Modular Architecture of the Augmentation System defined by Ansaldo. Demonstrations of the successful operation of the trial site in Sardinia were subsequently presented at national workshops. ERSAT EAV was concluded at the end of April.

Still in terms of satellite technology, the activities of the STARS project are still ongoing while the RHINOS project was brought to a close in October. Both projects are part of the Horizon 2020 Research Programme of the European GSA Agency.

In particular, with regard to the STARS project important research activities were carried out concerning the definition of the methodology and tools required to calculate the Ground Truth (temporal and spatial reference), which will be used as a reference to measure performance. Meanwhile, measurement activities were continued at the trial sites in Sardinia and Pontremolese with the aim of acquiring Signal In Space (RF signal) and Observation data regarding GPS, EGNOS and Galileo in different railway environmental conditions. The evolution of the EGNSS service was also defined in order to meet the performance and safety requirements of the railway sector and to identify any impacts on the ERTMS / ETCS systems.

In terms of the RHINOS project, the definition of a functional ERTMS system architecture based on future satellite technology was completed. This technology meets the most stringent performance requirements such as platform discrimination, high availability and integrity. The results of the activities were shared as part of an international workshop held in 2017 at Stanford University.

The following satellite technology projects funded by the European Space Agency were also launched in the final quarter of 2017:

  • DB4RAIL (Digital Beamforming for RAIL), which will develop a digital beamforming platform in the ERTMS context and implement an advanced GNSS antenna and signal processing method to increase system immunity to intentional electromagnetic interference (EMI);
  • SAT4TRAIN, which aims to develop an economically efficient Multi Link Communication Platform (MLCP) to replace the GSM-R system which will soon become obsolete;
  • SIM4RAIL, whose purpose is to specify and develop highly configurable laboratory tools to test and support the development of PNT technology for rail signalling applications, including the GNSS-based virtual balise detection system of the ERTMS platform.