railGATE – an investment in the future
In the future, rail vehicles are to be provided with systems that work with positioning information provided via satellite. This will be made possible thanks to Galileo. As of 2010, the European satellite navigation system will be simulated on the site of the Test and Validation Center. Even before the Galileo system is up and running, a test area for navigation of rail-borne traffic under realistic conditions is being created here.
With this test area, Siemens is backing the future project railGATE, which is being implemented by the Rhine-Westphalian Technical University (RWTH) Aachen. railGATE is financed by the space flight agency of the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR) (German Aerospace Center) with funds from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). After the start of test operation in 2010, Galileo is expected to go into service in 2012.
Because of the exceptionally high safety requirements, train protection technology requires considerable technical expenditure and a high degree of reliability. Satellite navigation has not yet been introduced here because the present generation of GNSS navigation systems (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) and GPS (Global Positioning System) do not position reliably due to the lack of integrity information and operating guarantee. The European Union’s future Galileo satellite navigation system is intended to remedy this situation.
Innovative application fields
The goal of the railGATE project is to open up new fields of application for Galileo in rail transportation and to make rail traffic even safer in the future. With the railGATE simulation at the Wegberg-Wildenrath Test and Validation Center, potential users in the rail transportation sector are given the possibility of testing innovative applications even before an actual Galileo signal is available.
As part of the railGATE project, eight signal generators known as pseudolites will be mounted on 30 m high transmitter masts which will soon be transmitting Galileo signals within a locally limited region. Vehicles equipped with receivers receive the signals from the surrounding pseudolites. Applications of positioning systems in rail transportation, such as automatic shunting or the tracking of trains, can be tested without danger on the 28 km track.