Safe obstacle detection and safe train location for little-used rail lines

16 November 2023

The ECOTRAIN project aims to revitalize small railway lines that are currently abandoned or under threat. It is supported by ADEME agency as part of the France Relance 2030 program. The aim is to revitalize territories, contribute to the national strategy for reducing carbon emissions and promote industrial relocation.

ECOTRAIN proposes a system of lightweight, battery-powered, autonomous rail shuttles. These automated shuttles will offer optimum service with high frequency and availability 7 days a week. The light weight of these shuttles will enable the use of new, environmentally friendly materials, reducing implementation and operating costs while integrating recycling issues.

CLEARSY is a partner in this project and is investigating several techniques for solving the problem of obstacle detection, by detecting upstream and “in time” obstacles: trains, people, animals, objects of all kinds. In this way, the train can know in advance of the presence of obstacles and safely adapt its speed according to the state of the track. This system, based on ground-based equipment, will enable the train to maintain high speed, despite curves, uneven ground, buildings, and trackside vegetation that prevent onboard solutions (sensors) from being fully effective.

In addition, CLEARSY prototypes a safe train location solution using the rail support, avoiding the need to install other on-board or ground-based equipment.

These highly innovative, low-cost solutions address fundamental, cross-cutting issues: safe train location and detection of obstacles on the track, for high-speed trains (100 km/h), a prerequisite for the success of mass transit, and avoiding the use of cars.