SWITZERLAND’s Federal Office of Transport (BAV) has granted type approval for automatic brake testing on wagons owned by Swiss Federal Railways’ (SBB) freight subsidiary SBB Cargo.

The new system enables one person to measure a freight train’s braking capacity automatically and receive all the information on a tablet, removing the need to walk around the train.

A brake test for a 500m freight train will thus only take five minutes, compared with the 40 minutes a manual test with two members of staff would take. As well as speeding up the process, the new system will improve safety as staff will no longer have to spend as much time on the track.

Almost 200 wagons have already been fitted with the new system, said to be the first fully automated and digitised of its kind, and which has been eight years in development.

“A 100-year-old method has been fully automated for the first time,” says Mr Günter Petschnig, CEO of PJ Monitoring, an Austrian company that has developed the new system together with SBB Cargo and Rail Cargo Austria. “The automatic brake test is ground-breaking for future rail transport.”

The system is compatible with digital automatic coupler (DAC) technology. SBB Cargo says it will be ready for full-scale rollout next year, after being tested for at least three months.