Rail Vehicles

Selection of finished projects

Self-powered sensor systems for freight car condition monitoring

Rail freight can be used to transport large quantities of goods in a particularly environmentally friendly way. At the same time, it is important to ensure the safe transportation of goods, especially hazardous goods. For this reason, the brakes, wheel bearings and mileage of the wagons must be checked regularly. The planned project will be the first to implement automated and energy-autonomous maintenance planning.

The planned assistance system is intended to make rail freight maintenance safer and more efficient and to relieve employees of manual, physically demanding maintenance work. Older employees in particular will benefit and be able to work longer. Information on the condition of the wagons will be communicated to the employees via a man-machine interface that is still to be developed. Since freight trains do not have their own on-board power supply, energy-autonomous sensor systems must be developed.

Energy-autonomous sensor systems for automated monitoring of freight cars are a technical novelty. The development of a particularly energy-efficient and robust system is challenging.

EVIAK bogie

Over the past two years, the Rail Vehicles Department has developed the "eviak" internal bogie for rail freight transport. The name of the bogie is derived from the original motivation of the project. The aim was to develop an energy-efficient, low-wear, maintenance- and acoustically optimized and cost-effective bogie. The project consortium consisted of three industrial partners, two universities and one non-profit research institution. All project partners were and are members of the bahntecnet network. The tasks of the rail vehicle department were, in addition to the project management, the following:

  • Creation of a bogie concept with radial adjustability of the wheelsets
  • Design of the primary suspension according to the requirements of DIN EN 14363
  • Development of a telematics concept and
  • Calculation of the wheelset axle

Reefer Container Transportation by Rail

As part of a research project commissioned by the German Center for Railway Research (DZSF), a team consisting of the partners Havelländische Eisenbahn HVLE, Wascosa, TU Berlin and Hartmann Rail Consult is determining the power consumption of refrigerated containers under real conditions in summer and winter operation on the open digital test field of the DZSF in the Halle-Cottbus-Horka area. Four 40' containers are used to investigate 2 modes of operation: the transport of frozen goods hermetically insulated at -18°C and the situation of ripening fruit at 13°C with air exchange. The latter mode is often the more energy-intensive in many ambient temperature ranges, especially since waste heat from the ripening process must also be removed. Rail transport allows these containers to be moved much faster than by road, with speeds of up to 120 km/h. Another major advantage of rail is that the refrigeration energy can be taken directly from the overhead line, saving about 70% of the energy required to run diesel generators. This is a side issue of the study. In addition, the problem of air exchange in increasing tunnel sections, e.g. the Gotthard Base Tunnel or noise protection tunnels such as Rastatt, is only a problem with diesel operation. The aim is to use the test results to increase the plannability and thus the frequency of use of this mode of transport, which is still very rarely used for rail traffic.

LEILA bogie

A traffic forecast commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing (BMVBW) predicts a 63% increase in freight traffic in Germany by 2015. The German government has set itself the goal of doubling the amount of freight transported by rail in this period compared to today in order to shift the modal split in favor of rail. According to the European Union, rail freight transport is expected to roughly triple by 2020 and its market share is expected to increase from 8% or 241 billion tkm (1998) to 15% or 784 billion tkm (2020). But this will not happen automatically. Rail's market share has stagnated in recent years and there are no signs of a trend reversal.

For this reason, there are various national and EU research funding programs. One of these is the project framework "Towards minimum emissions" of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Berlin and Bonn, within which the project "Lightweight and low-noise freight car bogie (LEILA-DG)" is being funded.

In order to transfer a large part of the predicted additional traffic to rail, new freight car bogies are needed that are significantly quieter and more productive than the current ones.

Rail freight needs to be quieter! Goods are transported by rail mainly at night. The additional traffic will therefore have an impact during this noise-sensitive period. With the maximum sound pressure level of today's bogies of 96 dB(A) at 80 km/h and 7.5 m transverse distance, this will lead to further resistance from the population.

Rail freight must become more attractive and more productive! Transport costs must be reduced and the attractiveness of rail freight transport must be increased in order to be a real alternative to road transport. Today, the average speed of single wagonload traffic is 8 km/h or more, due in part to the low level of automation in shunting and train formation. On average, freight cars need to be serviced twice a year. At the same time, the lightweight construction of modern bogies allows payloads to be increased, and today's freight car bogies, which weigh between 4.7 and 5.4 tons, offer great potential for savings. The key to solving these rail freight problems lies in the bogie. The LEILA-DG project aims to develop such an innovative product.

Measures to reduce noise levels must not increase life cycle costs (LCC). Otherwise the quiet technology would not be marketable. The productivity-enhancing innovations must therefore make the overall LEILA-DG product marketable with short payback times.

The aim of the project is to achieve the following objectives:

A noise reduction of 18 dB is targeted. This corresponds to a reduction in perceived noise of around 70%. This is to be achieved in particular by avoiding structure-borne sound bridges and by using disc brakes (no roughening of the wheel tread, acoustically favourable wheel web due to the absence of heat input into the wheel rim). An extended version with sound skirts aims to reduce noise by as much as 23 dB.

Reduction of bogie mass to below 4t. Compared to today's bogies, this means a reduction of at least 15%. In particular, the inner bearing opens up potential for a smaller cantilever width and a more favourable power flow.

The aim is to achieve a reduction in wheel/rail contact wear compared to today's bogies. Wheel/rail wear, material fatigue, curve noise and traction energy requirements are all significantly influenced by the toe angle of the wheelset in relation to the rail. It is therefore important to ensure the radial adjustability of the wheelsets. For reasons such as cost, reliability, energy requirements, etc., an active steering system cannot be considered. In LEILA, the passive radial adjustability is achieved by a wheelset coupling with a so-called cross anchor, which connects the diagonally opposite bearing housings. Preliminary numerical tests show a significant reduction in the slip angle compared to today's bogies, even with extremely worn treads.

Improved reliability and availability. The targeted use of telematics components and sensors on each bogie creates a self-powered diagnostic system that not only provides the basis for condition-based maintenance, but also offers other benefits in dispatching and the detection of safety-critical conditions.

Increase transparency in the supply chain. Customer-friendly transport can be achieved with the help of telematics. For example, the shipper can be informed at any time about the location or condition of his goods, something that has long been standard practice in road transport. This makes some goods suitable for rail transport in the first place. For example, it is still not possible to prove the cold chain when transporting goods by rail.

Increasing the active and passive safety of rail freight. This is achieved actively through constant monitoring of the safety-relevant components of the vehicle (see above) and passively through derailment detectors that quickly trigger an alarm in the event of a derailment. The damage caused by a derailment, which is usually enormous, can thus be greatly reduced.

Increasing the speed of transport. The targeted use of telematics components can automate time-consuming transport processes. For example, the brake test or technical inspection of the wagons during the shunting process, which can easily take 2 hours, can be reduced to a few minutes with the help of telematics. In its initial configuration, LEILA is designed for a maximum speed of 120 km/h when loaded.

Maintaining the ability to migrate. On the one hand, LEILA has the same interfaces to the car body as the previous freight car bogies (UIC bogie pan and spring-loaded lateral sliding pieces). Care has been taken to maintain the same roll angles etc. as the standard Y25 bogie, so that LEILA can be used as a replacement bogie, but also on new wagons under existing superstructures without the need for a new vehicle structure.
On the other hand, it is advantageous to be able to use a single LEILA-equipped wagon in a conventional train set, so that no forced conversion of the entire fleet is necessary.


Assets4Rail was a 37-month Shift2Rail project that aimed to contribute to the modal shift to rail by researching, adapting and testing technologies for the monitoring and maintenance of railway assets. The project was divided into two work streams. The first was dedicated to researching solutions for monitoring and upgrading bridges and tunnels, and the second to developing solutions for monitoring trains and track geometry, as well as collecting data from fail-safe systems.
The research in the first workstream was dedicated, among other things, to noise reduction measures against the droning of railway steel bridges during train crossings.
To this end, a bridge noise measurement system was developed and applied. This included airborne and structure-borne noise measurements, which were carried out and evaluated by the Technical University of Berlin on three bridges during the project. The measurements included pass-by measurements of passenger and freight trains in regular service on a main line. In addition, the TU Berlin assisted in the design of the noise reduction measures, bridge dampers specially designed for the bridge. The TU Berlin was actively involved in their development.
Good results have been achieved in reducing bridge noise on two bridges in Pressig, Bavaria.

The project management of the second work stream and the development of the algorithms for the monitoring solutions was the responsibility of the Rail Vehicles Unit.
Three main monitoring systems have been developed and applied. The first system is based on the trackside camera array for automatic detection of defects on bogies. The second system is a new on-board stereo camera monitoring system for track position monitoring. The third system is used to monitor switch systems. The algorithms for fault detection and diagnosis of the above systems were developed by the TU Berlin. In addition, the effects of the faults on the track were investigated by the TU Berlin using multi-body simulation.


The European Shift2Rail research project DESTINATE "Decision Supporting Tools for Implementation of Cost-efficient Railway Noise Abatement Measures" supports the reduction of railway noise and the improvement of acoustic passenger comfort. The main research topics can be divided into auralisation (making audible) and visualisation, acoustic characterisation of sound sources and components, interior noise simulation and cost-benefit analysis of noise abatement measures.
The aim of the project is to promote a modal shift from road to rail by facilitating informed decisions on noise abatement measures for railways.
The Rolling Stock Unit was responsible for the overall management of the project. It was also responsible for the evaluation of noise abatement measures and the characterisation of structure-borne noise sources from rolling stock.
The most outstanding result of the project is the auralisation & visualisation of pass-by scenarios. These are available online as a video.

Superstructure simulation tool

From 2015 to 2017, a project team from TU Berlin, TU Munich and Empa developed a model for the realistic simulation of railway rolling noise. The simulation tool was developed using the programs SIMPACK and ANSYS and consists of the sub-models vehicle dynamics, structural vibrations and sound radiation and propagation. The model was developed with the aim of contributing to a better understanding of the complex vibration behaviour of the vehicle-superstructure system and to provide a basis for targeted optimisation of the superstructure design.
The Rail Vehicles FG was responsible in particular for the multi-body simulation, i.e. the creation of excitation scenarios, and for the validation based on measurements.
As a result, a complex simulation tool has been developed which allows further investigation of the generation of rolling noise in the superstructure and indicates primary reduction measures.


"Aero-Ferro Benchmark" is the name of the joint research project that aims to compare and scientifically evaluate process design, business models and safety culture in rail freight and aviation. The focus of the Franco-German cooperation project is on how best practice solutions can be transferred from aviation to rail. Among other things, the project will focus on the following topics:

  • Safety How do stakeholders ensure the implementation and evolution of a sustainable safety culture? The airline industry relies on global, cross-company data sharing and a proactive approach to error handling.
  • Maintenance How do both carriers organize their maintenance? Condition-based and predictive maintenance has long been a reality in aviation. What has worked and how can the experience be transferred to rail?
  • Business models What are the business models for rental that the carriers are using in the market? Aviation has moved to charging rental costs only for hours used and maintenance time. Can this be a model for rail? And conversely, is there potential for aviation to combine rental and maintenance, as is common in rail freight?