Ansaldo STS’s unwavering commitment to providing its customers and end users (passengers and freight) with the best products and system solutions, the use of the best design methodologies and procedures and the best existing construction methods and processes contributes to increasing safety and reducing direct and indirect impacts on the environment.
Ansaldo STS’s research into energy efficiency concentrates on the following macro-areas:
- “Assistance with the design of turnkey systems”, through holistic hardware-in-the-loop simulators to provide a transport system that uses energy efficiently.
- “Operation – rail & driverless”, focused on searching for the optimum speed profile, considering scheduling and driving conduct.
- “Technologies for energy savings”, for ground recovery systems, geothermal heat pumps, simulators for the optimal size of supercapacitor accumulation systems.
The Company developed these areas as part of the MERLIN (Management of Energy in Railway Systems), OSIRIS (Optimal Strategy to Innovate and Reduce energy consumption in urban rail Systems) and SFERE (Sistemi FERroviari: ecosostenibilità e Risparmio Energetico) research projects.
Two important innovations introduced by Ansaldo STS in signalling systems for train control relate to the use of public telecommunications networks and GPS - Global Positioning Satellite - technology. The use of these new control systems will replace track equipment, which requires greater energy consumption. These systems will especially be used on low traffic lines in Europe, which make up about 50% of the total network length.
Ansaldo STS’s measures to improve the sustainability of its products and solutions
Reducing raw materials consumption
The use of powerful technological platforms integrating several functions in the same subsystem enables Ansaldo STS to reduce the size of equipment and their connectors, using simple and effective systems for scheduling, testing and roll-out. In addition, the search for increasingly standardised designs encourages innovation and a reduced use of components.
Specifically, over the past few years, methods to compact hardware of the central and outlying units of the railway control systems produced by Ansaldo STS were introduced and refined. They are based on both mechanical and technological solutions and allow a reduction in volumes, size, heat dissipation and waste to be eliminated of roughly 35%-40%.
Other methods to eliminate and simplify hardware included:
- the use of software from different subsystems on the same machine, such as for example, interlocking and radio block centre, usually used on separate hardware;
- the use of environmental sensors already in place as standard features on the CPUs instead of the previously used external sensor units;
- replacement of very bulky (and energy consuming) sophisticated industrial monitors with commercial equipment that meets the modern Green IT paradigms including with respect to the environmental impact of the materials used (this approach had already been implemented in the Turin-Padua Northbound Line and is of great interest for the revamping of the existing systems);
- centralised diagnostics (via web) rather than located in the outlying sites;
- maintenance systems based on commercial handheld devices replacing the traditional “heavy” equipment (this approach had already been implemented for the Roy Hill project);
- study and testing of embedded highly efficient innovative systems for railway applications (NEMBO research project).
Partly in response to certain new contracts (e.g., the Montreal MPM-10 TRAIN CONTROL SYSTEM project), Ansaldo STS is paying greater attention to studying eco-design aspects, including to meet customers’ environmental standards, such as:
- Analysis of compliance with REACH – Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals regulation (an integrated registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction system for chemicals established in the EU);
- Analysis of the re-usability and recyclability of materials;
- Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
The methodological approach entails a comparison of processes, materials and products in order to evaluate whether choices are ecologically compatible. The design stage, along with an analysis of costs and quality level, makes it possible to identify critical points in the product life cycle. The analysis process is carried out using software and considering the applicable legislative requirements and UNI ISO 14040 standards.
There is also more focus on the choice of materials, increasingly based on their ecological compatibility, starting from the product’s design stage (e.g., resins and paints of tropicalised circuit boards).
New approaches to hardware testing make the simultaneous testing of thousands of units possible, whereas previously tests were performed on one “box”, or controller, at a time. This solution, called SimWSP, has already been used for the Pisa system (northbound line).
The environmental management requirement for some ongoing contracts (e.g., the Copenhagen Cityringen) is to define an environmental policy to be applied during all the system implementation stages and requires preparation of an environment impact plan, an environmental action plan, etc. In particular, with respect to eco-design, environmental impact considerations must be included in the project flow in line with the environmental policy. The following objectives are set:
- base the environmental management system on the DS/EN ISO 14001 standard;
- consider environmental issues when taking decisions and include them in the project characteristics;
- work to high environmental standards and improve performances as much as possible over the project term;
- use raw materials and energy efficiently, optimising their re-use and recycling to minimise waste and waste products;
- safeguard environmental values and culture;
- prevent unwanted environmental consequences and reduce the project’s environmental impact;
- make a separate, specific and measurable commitment to respect nature.
For the last few years, Ansaldo STS has produced LED-based traffic lights at the Tito Scalo and Batesburg sites. This innovation has a positive impact on energy consumption, the management of maintenance and the disposal of maintenance material. Suffice it to say that bulbs were normally changed every four months, while LED bulbs last at least ten years.
Reliable and efficient traffic timetables
The tools that Ansaldo STS has designed and produced enable operators to create more efficient timetables for trains running on railway infrastructures, identifying, in particular, the optimum locations for stops, junctions and passing, and determining travel times to minimise waits and consumption. Therefore, these tools make it possible to prevent, and supply pro-active measures to combat, traffic caused by train delays, scheduled and non-scheduled maintenance, natural disasters and personnel shifts. This technology is also used to significantly cut down on fuel by increasing the average speed of trains, concurrently reducing the waste of fuel for acceleration closely followed by braking due to temporary slowdowns or stop signals.