Universidad Panamericana | Digitalization to improve the European railway sector
Digitalization to improve the European railway sector

ZAPOPAN, Jalisco, May 16, 2023 - In Europe, trains are fundamental to passenger and freight transportation. However, the European rail sector has faced several challenges in recent decades, such as lack of investment, low efficiency, lack of interoperability between networks and countries, competition with other modes of transport and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These problems have negatively affected the competitiveness of this sector and have limited its ability to meet the European Union's objectives in terms of sustainability, safety and mobility.

In this context, the European Union created the Shift2Rail initiative to promote innovation and technological development, with the aim of making rail transport more attractive to passengers and freight operators, while contributing to a more sustainable and efficient transport system in Europe.

Digitalization to improve the European railway sector

What does the project consist of?

Within Shift2Rail, there is the "Innovation Programme 5" (IP5), which focuses on the digitization and automation of freight trains. Digitalization refers to the implementation of electronic systems for monitoring rail infrastructure, such as tracks, locomotives, wagons and even freight.

For the specific IP5 projects, the Centro de Estudios e Investigaciones Técnicas(CEIT), which is the technology center of the University of Navarra in Spain, was involved along with a group of important European companies in the sector.

Digitalization to improve the European railway sector

My personal interest in embedded systems and applied research led me to choose the option of working on this project at CEIT as part of the PhD program in Applied Engineering, offered by the University of Navarra. University of Navarra. My participation consisted in the development of an electronic monitoring system for freight train wagons.

The data collected would be processed to obtain information on the physical and wear condition of these components, which could be used for the application of predictive maintenance.

The sensorization could also be used for other functions, such as knowing the application status of the train's brakes and performing a quick brake test. The developed system was tested on freight trains in Sweden, Germany and Spain.

Digitalization to improve the European railway sector

Relevance of the project

Having reliable and timely information on the status of these critical components was vital to improve the efficiency of the railway system. Overall, IP5 of the Shift2Rail initiative has a major impact on improving the rail sector in Europe: it enables greater efficiency, sustainability and competitiveness of the sector through digitization and automation of processes. This translates into reduced transport costs, improved service quality and a reduction in the carbon footprint of freight transport.

Digitalization to improve the European railway sector

My experience

In 2018, after 10 years working as a full professor in the Faculty of Engineering at the Universidad Panamericana campus GuadalajaraI find the possibility to continue my preparation and start my doctoral studies in Applied Engineering at CEIT. Now, in 2023, I am about to present the defense of my thesis to continue my career as a research professor, specialized in embedded systems. This process would not have been possible without the invaluable support of the Universidad Panamericana campus Guadalajara, and CEIT in San Sebastian, Spain.

Author data

Dr. Roberto Carlos Ramírez Marquez
School of Engineering