iPad app for French trains named crème de la crème

A French train driver being guided by the UniSA developed iPad app, which helps them efficiently drive high-speed TGV trains. The speedometer shows the train’s speed approaching 300km/h. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
A French train driver being guided by the UniSA developed iPad app, which helps them efficiently drive high-speed TGV trains. The speedometer shows the train’s speed approaching 300km/h.

An iPad app developed by UniSA researchers is helping high-speed train drivers in France to drive more efficiently and by doing so helping the national rail operator save millions of Euros in energy costs – and earning them a major award.

The Energymiser software runs on iPads deployed to 2000 high-speed (TGV) train drivers across France, giving them real-time advice on the optimum speed, to increase fuel efficiency while staying on schedule.

In June, France's national state-owned railway company, SNCF, was named company of the year by the Forum of Energy Managers for its use of the system (which it calls "Opti-conduite"), receiving an Energy Time Award for Energy Management and Performance. The annual award is presented to a company with remarkable and innovative achievements in the fields of performance and energy management.

UniSA Associate Professor Peter Pudney says UniSA and its commercial partner TTG Transportation Technology are continuing to work with SNCF to deploy the system on other train services throughout France.

Asc Prof Pudney says the route and geometry of each high-speed rail line is recorded in the software, and the system uses the data to continuously recalculate the ideal train speed to smooth acceleration and braking, saving up to 10 per cent in energy consumption.

The software is also installed in more than 1000 passenger and freight trains in Australia and the United Kingdom, with the French version, in the form of an Pad app, being the latest version.

“The driver advice software was developed by UniSA’s Scheduling and Control Group over many years, and has been deployed around the world,” Asc Prof Pudney says.

“Working with SNCF, we integrated our driving advice software onto their iPads. Each SNCF train driver has an iPad that shows the route and timetable information as they are driving.

“Our software calculates how a train should be driven in order to ensure that the train arrives at each timing point on time, and uses as little energy as possible.”

The system uses GPS to monitor the progress of a train journey, and continually calculates the most efficient way to complete the journey taking into account track gradients, speed limits, power limits and the timetable. It then advises the driver when to apply power, when to maintain speed, when to coast and when to brake, as well as displaying real-time information about the route and journey.

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