Case Study

Alstom TRAXX MS3 locomotive

Alstom TRAXX MS3 locomotive
Published: 14 March 2021 Client name: Alstom Service provided: Rolling stock test programme

As countries across Europe entered national lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ricardo’s rolling stock testing team were approximately 70% of the way through a test programme for Alstom’s TRAXX MS3 locomotive.

The TRAXX MS3 is an electric-powered locomotive that also uniquely features an onboard 230 kW ‘last-mile’ powerpack that enables the vehicle to travel on non-electrified track. This capability will be particularly valued in port and harbour environments, such as around the Port of Rotterdam on the European freight corridor.

The test programme, which was taking place at the Velim test centre in the Czech Republic, was to demonstrate the compatibility of the locomotive’s electrical systems with the train protection systems, which required the vehicle to be monitored under a range of normal and degraded operating conditions (such as under half-power). This was the final stage of testing before completing the Intermediate Statement of Verification (ISV), an essential requirement before a National Safety Authority can grant a temporary authorisation for type testing.

But with Ricardo’s experts required to return the Netherlands at such short notice ahead of a nationwide lockdown, the programme looked set to incur significant delays. Even without the additional challenges of social distancing, vehicle test programmes can take several months of prior preparations.

Saved six months

An innovative remote approach

To try and keep as close as possible to the original schedule, Alstom and Ricardo quickly developed an innovative approach that would allow the test programme to continue in Velim but with real-time footage streamed direct to Ricardo staff in their homes.

As well as cameras to capture images from the cab and the driver information screens, specially configured hardware and software was installed to enable the measurements systems to function automatically and allow the remote Ricardo team to closely monitor the onboard instruments.

Establishing a stable and secure stream from a test centre in one country to domestic homes in another brought its own challenges. A range of audio and visual issues had to be resolved before the Ricardo team were confident that they had reliable remote access to the live data readings and that the remaining tests could proceed.

The cooperation with Ricardo is very good and better than in all other countries Alstom, 2020
The cooperation with Ricardo is very good and better than in all other countries

Six month delay avoided

With the full support and collaboration of our client, the programme was able to re-start. This meant that, despite the enforced absence of the test management team, and the strict social distancing measures that were in place at the test site, Ricardo's experts were able to complete the test programme and collate sufficient data to compile the ISV and apply for a temporary authorisation for type testing in The Netherlands.

It is estimated this remote approach prevented a six-month delay in the vehicle’s progress towards authorisation. Testing of the vehicle on Dutch infrastructure is now scheduled to take place in summer 2021.

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