EUREKA project puts rail freight transport back on the competitive map
New tools to help rail freight transport users better control and manage the movement of goods have been developed within the EUREKA project E-RAILMAP.
Despite its recognised environmental performance, the rail sector has been steadily losing its share of the freight transport market over the last decades to its direct competitor; road
transport. One of the reasons is the difficulty users experience when arranging the movement of goods.
The basic tool for defining rail transport parameters is the detailed railway map.
‘Nowadays, on the European market, it is possible to obtain several types of wall rail maps,’ explains Petr Kroca, the coordinator of the project from the Czech company JERID. ‘But these maps
do not provide sufficient detail, and wall map production technologies are unable to integrate updated data on a regular basis; hence the information may not be a correct reflection of the
reality on the ground.’
Efficiently tracking and tracing transported goods is only possible when certain conditions are met and all transport parameters are precisely defined. According to Mr Kroca, current wall maps
only serve to provide basic orientation within the network, and so lack the ability to deliver the kind of real information that is needed for improved railway freight transport.
The goal of the E-RAILMAP project was to create an electronic map of the European railway network.
With support from EUREKA, JERID and partners from Germany and Austria went a step further by developing a powerful tool that collects information on rail wagon positions. They used conventional
methods of railway system data gathering and innovative telematics technologies.
The resulting maps can be displayed via both desktop-based and Internet-based computer applications, incorporating enlargement and diminution capabilities as well as links between graphic
symbols and other regularly updated information, such as text. Once logged in, users can access a list of wagons, detailed information about their positions and a history of movements. They can
also use the system as a data management tool, exporting and importing information to and from the data files. Furthermore, the E-RAILMAP also provides crucial control capabilities, allowing
users to send messages to wagon units.
‘E-RAILMAP has been a very successful project. We have created a real and profitable software product, with many satisfied customers, now numbering 200 in 12 countries all over Europe. Our maps
include the positions of all railway stations and additional tools for tracking objects such as individual wagons, trains and locomotives,’ says Mr Kroca.
In this way, E-RAILMAP has opened the way for more efficient and environmentally-friendly freight transport, increasing the relative attractiveness of rail versus road.