ÖBB puts first cloud-enabled interlocking in operation
Austrian rail infrastructure manager ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG has put a new digitalisation system into operation at the train station of Achau, Austria. The ‘Distributed Smart Safe System’ (DS3), developed by Siemens Mobility, is a universally deployable platform as a basis for cloud-enabled interlocking and rail safety technologies such as ETCS.
The station at Achau, on the Pottendorfer Line south of Wien, is the first where the digital interlocking system DS3 is implemented. The DS3 platform can be used on different, commercially available hardware for various applications and interfaces of rail safety technology. It can form the basis for the digital interlocking and for the radio block center (RBC) in the European Train Control System (ETCS).
In December 2018, ÖBB and Siemens started the first joint field trials. The interlocking was put into live operation at the train station in Achau on the 18th November 2020, after approval of the system. It has full responsibility for security and safety at the station. The project presents the first-ever approval of a Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 4 interlocking on a commercial off-the-shelf hardware and is therefore an international pilot and reference project.
No need for special hardware
The DS3 interlocking system makes signalling hardware independent and cloud-enabled. According to Siemens Mobility, DS3 is the world’s first platform to securely make signalling applications functional and operational on standardised hardware. With it, the need for creating special hardware has been eliminated.
Michael Peter, CEO of Siemens Mobility, says: “The DS3 interlocking in the cloud for ÖBB in Achau is a real quantum leap for the railway industry. It enables the virtualisation of most signalling components, such as interlocking computers or ETCS computers. The trains send their position data by radio link to a central system which ensures safety, sets points, manages routes and sends authorisations to the vehicles”.
Flexible cloud solutions
Siemens calls DS3 a ‘fundamental building block’ for flexible cloud solutions. It enables the centralisation of interlockings, for example at operation control centers. Moreover, it can be centralised and scaled and is compatible with a wide variety of existing systems and supports standards such as Eulynx, Neupro/RASTA.
As a universally deployable platform, DS3 can be combined with many rail safety technology products, when it comes to interlocking, train protection/RBC, signal controlled warning systems, control technology and others, and can be used in various safety levels. When switching to this new technology, infrastructure operators therefore have the opportunity to completely integrate existing installations and systems.
Benefits for infrastructure operators and passengers
DS3 allows the ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG to benefit from a wide variety of economic advantages, according to the developers of the system. For example, signals and points can be smartly controlled, enabling diagnoses, predictions of malfunctions and predictive maintenance. DS3 should also have lower lifecycle costs. In addition, it contributes to sustainability, by providing savings in terms of space and energy. In the future, interlockings can be significantly reduced and combined into one data center.
“We are digitizing ÖBB’s infrastructure”, says Johann Pluy, Member of the Management Board of ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG. “The digital interlocking is a component of our comprehensive digitalisation strategy. This and many other projects make it possible to increase the capacity of our infrastructure and at the same time improve safety and security, punctuality and cost efficiency”.
Image: ÖBB / Siemens Mobility, Robert Deopito