Control technology for safety of next-generation Chinese trains

Echelon Corp. announced that the China Academy of Rail Sciences and Sifang Rolling Stock Research Institute have standardized on Echelon’s LonWorks networking platform for safety monitoring on next generation passenger trains—effectively making it a de facto standard for high-speed rail travel in the world’s largest, passenger rail-transport market.


Echelon Corp . announced that the China Academy of Rail Sciences and Sifang Rolling Stock Research Institute have standardized on Echelon's LonWorks networking platform for safety monitoring on next generation passenger trains—effectively making it a de facto standard for high-speed rail travel in the world's largest, passenger rail-transport market. Echelon's platform will monitor safety features on passenger trains including brakes, doors, and power supply. Since 2002, China's Ministry of Railways has recommended the platform as one of the approved control-network standards for passenger trains.

"It is a top priority to improve the safety and efficiency of public transportation systems in China," said Xiuwei Guo, senior engineer R&D for the Sifang Rolling Stock Research Institute. "Echelon's proven LonWorks technology provides us with a reliable and flexible platform that is cost-effective and allows Chinese original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to modify and expand on their core development. This will help drive the quick adoption of LonWorks technology." As the Chinese economy continues to open, fast, efficient, and safe travel between the country's largest cities has been identified as a bottleneck for economic growth. China's Ministry of Rail has mandated a speed increase on all next generation trains, from 120 km/hr to 160 km/hr and higher. This increase will improve the productivity and efficiency of the Chinese rail system, which remains the country's primary transportation method; however, with the increase in speed comes the need for improved safety monitoring.

With its open architecture and standards-based protocol, IEEE 1437L, Echelon's LonWorks platform provides a seamless communications infrastructure between all the vehicle networks, consolidating all monitoring functions including braking, speed sensors, doors, HVAC, and speed limitations. This in turn helps to make train travel more reliable, safer, and easier to maintain and operate. Both the China Academy of Rail Sciences and Sifang Rolling Stock Research Institute have installed a LonWorks-based safety monitoring solution in over 1,000 train cars and China is building, on average, 1,000 new cars annually.

LonWorks platform's underlying protocol, also known as IEEE 1473L, is used in New York City subway cars, Helsinki light rail, and other transit systems, and is the required communications platform for the Chicago Transit Authority's next-generation subway-cars. The American Association of Railroads utilizes the protocol and a related, power-line signaling technology in its electro-pneumatic braking system standard.

Founded in 1950, China's Academy of Railway Sciences (CARS) is a division of the Chinese Ministry of Railway, and is engaged in a full range of rail and transportation related research and development, production, sales and marketing. CARS also acts as a think tank for transportation policy and helps set the technology standard for the Chinese railway industry. CARS is based in Beijing, China.

Sifang Rolling Stock Research Institute is a division of China Northern Locomotive and Rolling Stock Industrial Group, one of the two largest rail car manufacturers in China. Based in Qingdao, China, Sifang is a major research institute and OEM for China's railway industry.

— Richard Phelps, senior editor, Control Engineering

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