Big data on rails
In the race between “trains, planes or cars”, the train is catching up fast. And not only for environmental reasons. Data are driving trains forward, making them faster, constantly available and an integral part of intelligent mobility of the future.
Thanks to Predictive Maintenance, Siemens’ new trains, for example, have an availability of practically 100 percent as evidenced by the high-speed route of the Spanish State railway Renfe from Madrid to Barcelona. Although the route that takes one and a half hours by air, requires two and half hours by train, the travel time to and from the airport and the time-consuming security procedures before a flight do not apply to the train.
The advanced data analysis for the trains pre-empts technical problems — and with such reliability that Renfe even guarantees its passengers that it will refund the ticket price if the train is more than 15 minutes late. And indeed: technical malfunctions on the train only cause a notable delay roughly every 2,300 trips.
Knowing what has to be done beforehand
Siemens, particularly, with its data-driven trains, has its nose in front in the rail sector. Employees in the company’s Data Service Centre collect sensor data, error messages and the log files of the trains deployed, and as a result, they possess uniquely detailed knowledge. The data consist not only of standard figures such as speed and braking performance but also information on the behaviour of the compressors or the condition of the track — as well as the weather during trips. All in all, this results in a huge mountain of data which reveal illuminating patterns. “Even before the trains arrive, we already know what has to be done”, confirms Gerhard Kreß, Manager of the Data Service Centre at Siemens.
Deutsche Bahn is also banking on digitising its fleet: all 2,000 trains are to be equipped with diagnostic technology by 2020. “Digitization will highlight the system-related strengths of Deutsche Bahn”, says Manfred Fuhg, Manager of Siemens’ Mobility Division and spokesman for the companies in Allianz pro Schiene, with conviction.