IRJ at IAF 2022: The Plasser & Theurer exhibit included an area dedicated to the newly founded Digital Railway Solutions Alliance (DRS) of 15 European track technology suppliers, which is aiming to adopt an “open innovation ecosystem” to increase the safety, efficiency, and capacity of the world’s railways.

The idea for an alliance to drive the adoption of digital solutions in railway infrastructure management was conceived in October 2021 during a two-day workshop, with the group’s plans formally announced during last week’s IAF exhibition in Münster.

DRS says the commitment to increase rail’s share of global transport volumes in countries around the world means that maintaining high levels of safety, improving network efficiency and increasing capacity are essential if rail is to succeed. As a result, the alliance is aiming to combine expert knowledge to develop and leverage new technologies and create overarching synergies for railway infrastructure managers and rail operators.

The founding members have identified what they believe are the key issues to resolve in track infrastructure management, identifying five priority areas on which they will initially focus, and which DRS believes will enable infrastructure managers to leverage the full value of digitalisation and new technologies:

  • integrated sensor technology solutions: a holistic portfolio of superior, seamlessly connected and state-of-the-art sensor technology for all railway activities
  • 3D+ infrastructure data solutions: an interactive 3D+ interface to monitor, access and maintain track assets by means of a digital twin, based on the combined expertise and sensor solutions of DRS Alliance Partners
  • end-to-end asset data management: effective integration and utilisation of newly generated, digital asset data with historical data from paper and other archives
  • AI-based predictive infrastructure management: modular solutions to optimise track and turnout management from assessment to execution, and
  • automated services for trackside safety: automated track maintenance services communicating with the network’s train control system to schedule maintenance slots efficiently while keeping track workers safe.

“Following IAF, the DRS Alliance will immediately focus on strengthening end-to-end solutions for critical railway infrastructure in Europe,” says Mr Jan Mys, technical lead of the DRS Alliance and managing director of Global Rail Consulting, which is overseeing the alliance. “Starting in 2023 and beyond, we’re planning to expand further afield to help reshape rail mobility across the globe.”

The founding members of the DRS Alliance are:

  • 3B Infra
  • ASC - German Sensor Engineering
  • DGNSS Sensors
  • DMA
  • DRUM - Dynamic Rail Utilities Monitoring
  • Dual Inventive
  • Ground Control Geophysics Consulting
  • IVE
  • LocLab Consulting
  • Obermeyer Infrastruktur
  • Plasser & Theurer
  • ProVI
  • RailRestore
  • tmc - Track Machines Connected, and
  • Vogel & Plötscher.

“Our new alliance brings together best-in-class, technology-driven companies, each with a determined focus on optimising railway networks utilising the latest advances in digital innovation, automation and data processing,” says Mr Florian Auer, director of global technology and innovation at Plasser & Theurer. “We believe in the power of collaboration across our open innovation ecosystem. Together, our combined expertise and complementary technologies will serve to tailor optimal solutions for each individual customer.”