Virtual Testing

Virtual Testing

Are you looking for a more optimal way to certify your railway systems? Or do you want to investigate improvements of your asset performance? Testing of your railway assets might be required to get more insight in its performance, but track testing is becoming more and more challenging for the railway sector. The possibilities for on track testing are reducing due to more strict safety regulations and busier tracks. But also stricter project planning often leaves little time for physical tests. At the same time, computers become more powerful, which makes simulations of the real world a possibility.

To reduce your project costs and lead time, Ricardo offers virtual testing services as an alternative to on track testing. It can replace tests that currently take place physically, it can be used if physical testing is impossible (e.g. derailment simulation) or it can be used in as an aid in the design & engineering phase.

Our virtual testing services can be used throughout the life cycle of rolling stock and infrastructure. Apart from the design & engineering phase, it can be used to replace type tests for authorisation. During the operational phase virtual tests facilitate problem investigation and system optimisation.

Based on your needs, we will advise on the best suitable virtual model. This can range from a simplified mathematical model to a complete digital twin. We will always use carefully validated simulation models and validation will be done in accordance with the latest industry standards. Our physical testing capabilities can be used to collect data for validation if required.

With our long experience in railway technology we can built on our deep technical knowledge of rolling stock, infrastructure and its interfaces. This in combination with our involvement in the development of the latest industry standards, our experience with on track testing and our modern simulation techniques make us an ideal partner for you to work with in this field.

Design & Engineering phase

In the design & engineering phase the actual product is not yet available and here virtual testing can help to understand how the product will behave in its intended environment. Examples of questions that can be answered with virtual testing:

  • Impact of weight reductions on crash worthiness and strength
  • Placement of the pantograph on the roof to optimise contact forces in coupled operation
  • Dynamic simulations to optimise choice of bogie components for the vehicles intended operation
  • Hardware-in-the-loop testing where the safety systems can be tested using a simulation of the final operation (including failure scenario’s)
  • Effects of crosswinds

Authorisation phase (new and refurbished)

For authorisation of new vehicles and infrastructure it is required to perform type testing. This is time consuming, expensive and can lead to undesired project delays. Although on track testing can never be fully replaced, some tests can already be replaced by simulations. Examples are:

  • Running dynamics tests according to EN 14363 can be replaced by simulations in case the vehicle is based on an already existing vehicle. This is especially interesting for refurbishment of existing vehicles.
  • Pantograph/catenary interaction can be simulated according to EN 50318 for TSI authorisation of both the vehicle and the overhead line. 
  • Structural analysis can be done according to EN 12633-1 as opposed to static testing
  • In many countries ETCS integration testing can be done in a lab environment, where the RBC and trackside systems are “in the loop” (ETCS System Compatibility)

Operational phase 

In the operational phase digital models of a vehicle or infrastructure can help to investigate problems occurring during operation. For example:

  • Root cause analysis for the uncomfortable running of a vehicle on a specific track
  • Determine the impact of failures on the reliability of the rail system

It can also be used for optimisation of current systems. For example:

  • Verification of the effects of changes of bogie components on the running behaviour
  • Calculation of the expected energy consumption benefits of a different way of driving 

To get an impression of the virtual testing services that we can offer we have provided details of our current offering: