Energy saving through optimised driver techniques

DriveSmart is a unique, cost-effective approach to reducing traction energy costs by up to 25%.

Developed in partnership with The University of Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education (BCRRE), DriveSmart performs detailed route modelling analysis to identify optimum movement sequences - such as coasting points and cruising speeds - and then passes this information to driver teams through bespoke training programmes.

  • Combined modelling and driver education package.
  • Traction energy costs reduced by 10% to 25%.
  • Fit for implementation on light rail, metro and self-contained conventional rail routes.
  • No in-cab display's, DAS or retrofit of the fleet.

“We have all been Impressed with the impact of the DriveSmart programme on day-to-day operations, with a 17% reduction of energy use on the sections where DriveSmart is utilised”
- Colin Kerr, Engineering Manager for Edinburgh Trams.

'Let the trams do the work'

Proactive and informed driver teams

In the DriveSmart process, each individual route is modelled by a software-based simulator, developed by BCRRE ( with initial sponsorship from UK Tram), to find the most appropriate movements under a range of different scenarios , such as variable weather conditions. This identifies, for example, the optimum coasting points and cruising speeds specific to the route's gradients and curvatures, as well as  the vehicle's own characteristics.

Once tested under true operational conditions, the evidence is compiled into a bespoke driver training programme that is delivered to driver teams showing them how it is possible to minimise energy usage yet still maintain a consistent total journey time.

With no in-cab display - and thus compatible with systems that use line-of-sight driving – the focus is on empowering the driver teams: rather than telling them what to do and when, DriveSmart is about allowing drivers to apply their extra knowledge as they see fit and when conditions allow.

Furthermore, as a result of more efficient transitions between acceleration, coasting and braking, passengers benefit from smoother rides, whilst less frequent braking will reduce wear and tear and require less maintenance.

Simulation testing in China and the UK has demonstrated a potential reduction in traction power use of between 10% and 25%.

The system has been installed on the Edinburgh Tram system since April 2018 and the experiences of their engineering and driver teams following DriveSmart's first year can be seen in the short video above (length: two minutes).

“We have all been impressed with the impact of the DriveSmart programme on day-to-day operations. The initial modelling was a revealing exercise in itself, pinpointing how we could take advantage of the route’s gradients and alignments to reduce energy use. The driver training was delivered at the right pitch to secure the team’s buy-in, and the subsequent results – a 17% reduction of energy use on the sections where DriveSmart is utilised – shows how an improved awareness of a route’s characteristics and the use of more coasting by drivers can make an immediate and positive contribution to operational efficiency”. - Colin Kerr, Engineering Manager, Edinburgh Trams

For more information: [email protected]