WABTEC has announced the launch of Monitor, a freight innovation project that it is undertaking with Fret SNCF, the freight business of French National Railways (SNCF), and regional freight operator RDT13, which is owned by the département of Bouches du Rhône in southern France.

Under the Monitor project, wagons will be equipped with sensors that should help prevent derailments and untimely brake applications, as well as reduce train preparation time and wagon maintenance costs.

Wabtec says that Monitor focuses on four key technologies which have been brought together for the first time. These are radio communication between wagons along the train, brake monitoring, bogie monitoring and automatic brake testing.

Monitor is the first innovation project to be launched by the French Rail Freight of the Future (4F) alliance. This brings together operators and other companies active in the sector with the aim of relaunching rail freight in France and doubling its market share by 2030.

The French government is funding Monitor as part of the France 2030 innovation programme managed by green development agency Ademe.

The project will last for three-and-a-half years and will see Wabtec developing solutions based on needs established by the 4F alliance. They will be tested in real-world conditions on rolling stock operated by Fret SNCF and RDT13.

Wabtec says that Monitor will generate new jobs in France “with high added value.”

"The Monitor project has the potential to transform the development of freight rail in Europe,” says Mr Lilian Leroux, president of Wabtec Global Transit and Freight Europe.

“By developing the attractiveness of rail in Europe, we will contribute to the European Union's goals of doubling the modal share of rail to 30% by 2030, helping to reduce CO2 emissions."

“The digitalisation of freight represents a major opportunity for rail operators in terms of operating safety, productivity, attractiveness of our profession and improvement of working conditions,” says Mr Frédéric Delorme, president of Rail Logistics Europe at SNCF.

He added that Fret SNCF is playing a major role in the Monitor project, a key component of the autonomous freight train of tomorrow, “by sharing its expertise and feedback on freight train operations, and by testing new solutions in real conditions onboard its locomotives and the wagons it operates.”

“Rail freight uses six-times less energy, emits eight-times less pollution and nine-times less carbon than a comparable journey by road,” says RTD13 CEO, Mr Paul Sillou. “We are proud to contribute to this innovative project that will bring major benefits to French and European rail.”