Rail operators in Europe require independent laboratories in order to ensure that new technologies and processes comply not only with existing standards but also with the trains and infrastructure already in use. In reality, testing every single product or programme would be too time-consuming and too expensive. Independent laboratories are therefore needed that can simulate the tests safely and quickly. In the RailSiTe® (railway simulation and testing) laboratory, DLR has been researching new concepts and procedures for the faster commissioning of complex communication systems for rail transport for more than 10 years.
For ETCS tests, the laboratory is additionally flexibly accredited in accordance with DIN-ISO 17025. This means that even if there is a change in the version of the specifications, tests relevant to approval can be carried out immediately - without the necessity of renewed auditing by the Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle (German accreditation body).
RailSiTe® is DLR's simulation and test laboratory for railways technologies. It enables detailed technical and operational simulations as well as testing of railway management and signalling technology. The laboratory is capable of mapping the entire chain of the rail transport system in functional detail, including the trackside management and signalling technology, the interlocking, the track infrastructure and the air interface between track and train to the side of the vehicle.
RailSiTe® is one of only six independent laboratories in Europe used for testing the conformity and interoperability of subsystems and components of the ETCS. Railway operators benefit from its modular architecture, which makes it possible to integrate individual components of the management and signalling technology into the simulation both as software modules and as hardware components via real physical interfaces. The laboratory’s high level of precision is unparalleled: the entire communication apparatus of the target system is simulated down to the smallest detail to best represent the real world.
With RailSiTe®, the Institute of Transportation Systems offers an economic possibility for interoperability tests as well as proof of conformity for certification with regard to the ETCS and also the EULYNX specification. The laboratory can be used during development or for finished products.
Through the research area of test automation, the individual test phases from test preparation through to report generation are continuously improved regarding their quality. At the same time, processes and methods are developed that reduce the outlay required for conducting conformity tests. As soon as the results of the research have been proven to be correct, they flow directly into the implementation of the conformity tests.
Due to its modular and generic architecture, RailSiTe® is not bound to a specific safety technology but can be easily adapted for new technologies with minimal effort. The architecture is specialised for communications or digitalised railway management and signalling (Leit- und Sicherungstechnik; LST) technology. It can be used to carry out functional tests, such as the testing of content from specific communications for conformity and interoperability. RailSiTe® can be used to test ETCS onboard units and will soon also be used to test object controller for infrastructure elements according to EULYNX specifications. To do this, the device is first connected to the RailSiTe® via various interfaces. Then, the individual test sequences are virtualised and automatically processed in the laboratory, depending on the specification (Subset-076 or EULYNX). In the case of ETCS tests, a robotic system carries out the inputs that would be made by the train driver. The advantage of this is that it allows the tests to be run throughout the day. Afterwards, the results are compared with the requirements listed in the specifications. Automated assessments were designed, implemented, and validated within the test campaigns to define the evaluation method. Shadow systems are used which apply new tools in parallel with validated tools in order to optimise and automate the test procedure. The tests will continue to be conducted with the existing methods until the final validation of the tools, at which point the results of both approaches will be compared. Only after successful validation of the new tool chain will it be used for further test campaigns. Finally, a test report is prepared that summarises the result and serves as a basis for approval by the relevant authority. Currently, the laboratory is frequently used for conformity tests of ETCS onboard units, such as the main control units on a locomotive. These campaigns help validate fundamental research results related to simulation-based testing. One of these results is the reduction of the execution time for the tests of the on-board units, which has been reduced by approximately 50 percent over the last 10 years. Furthermore, the quality of the tests has been significantly increased, which is measurable in test and requirement coverage.
In the near future, tests in accordance with EULYNX specifications will also be carried out in RailSiTe®. These specifications are currently being discussed by a European working group and will also be published by them. In this context, the laboratory is currently being expanded by an additional set-up that will enable the testing of infrastructure elements regarding conformity and interoperability.
To date and in the future, the employees of the laboratory have been and will continue to be successfully involved in various research projects. Amongst other achievements, DLR has been involved in updating the test specifications Subset-076 and Subset-094 to Baseline 3. Currently, DLR is working on various detailed issues with the EULYNX consortium, which is driving forward the creation of the EULYNX specifications. The participation in the Shift2Rail projects, in which, amongst other things, the topics of approval and testing in the laboratory were and are being worked on at European level against the background of standardisation in the railway sector, is further proof of the commitment of the employees. In addition, for many years DLR has been carrying out tests for diverse industrial companies from the railway sector on their newly developed onboard units, in order to obtain approval through submission of the test report to the notified body. Further projects on the automation and digitalisation of test processes as well as methods for the testing of a track-planning project in the laboratory are currently under development.
DLR collaborations include close working relationships with the other five European ETCS reference laboratories: CEDEX in Madrid (Spain), RINA in Genoa (Italy), SNCF in Le Mans (France), Italcertifer in Rome (Italy) and Multitel in Mons (Belgium). With RailSiTe®, DLR is the presiding member of the European Accredited Labs (EAL), an association of ETCS test laboratories that is recognised by the EU.
What kind of performance can I expect from RailSiTe®?
What exactly is tested?
In our laboratory, onboard units that are installed in trains are tested. To be precise, the functionality of the software is tested - i.e. whether it does exactly what it is expected to do in accordance with the specifications.
In what condition do manufacturers send the onboard unit to the laboratory?
The decision on this lies with the supplier. In the laboratory, we can test both fully developed devices as well as devices during development. Please do not hesitate to contact our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org at an early stage so that we can provide you with optimum support throughout the process.
Can the conformity tests only be carried out on site in the RailSiTe® laboratory at DLR?
Currently, tests can only be carried out on DLR premises. Our team is working flat out to ensure that our test infrastructure can also be brought to our customers in the future. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in using our mobile test facilities.
When can I expect an offer for a EULYNX test?
It is expected that the first tests will take place in the second quarter of 2023. We would be delighted to offer you the opportunity to register now for a RailSiTe® test. Please contact us for a non-binding offer at email@example.com.
What exactly can customers have tested in accordance with the EULYNX specifications?
Test specimens include, for example, the object controller of barriers, light signal systems and many other items.
Who can I contact if I am interested in a RailSiTe® service?
There is an E-mail address available that you are welcome to use for enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org