Ecotrain, a futuristic shuttle

Wal­ter Schön and Mohamed Sal­lak, respec­tive­ly pro­fes­sor and lec­tur­er at UTC, are both spe­cial­ists in oper­at­ing safe­ty at UTCHeudi­asyc, a lab­o­ra­to­ry renowned for its high-lev­el research. They have joined the ECOTRAIN project led by Philippe Bour­guignon, a mem­ber of the ITM Albi-Car­maux Sci­en­tif­ic Coun­cil until 2022.

The project is fund­ed by the French Envi­ron­ment and Ener­gy Man­age­ment Agency (ADEME) and involves four indus­tri­al part­ners. Strat­i­forme Indus­tries, Socofer, Clearsy and Syntony. The project will run from 2023 to 2027, with the first pro­to­type due to be test­ed on a 10km stretch of track in Albi from 2025. What we have here is a project of immense envi­ron­men­tal and social interest.

A num­ber of rail­way lines of local inter­est have been with­drawn, leav­ing cer­tain areas iso­lat­ed, and for those areas where these lines remain, they rep­re­sent not only a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nom­ic cost, but also an envi­ron­men­tal one, since 42% of trains run on diesel.

What are some of the objec­tives of the ECOTRAIN project? “The aim is to intro­duce shut­tle trains on lines aver­ag­ing 50 km in length. Two types of rail shut­tle, with a com­mon tech­ni­cal base, are being devel­oped. One for pas­sen­gers (30 seats) and the oth­er for micro-freight”, explains Mohamed Sal­lak. What’s spe­cial about these shut­tles? “They will be 16 m long, autonomous (i.e., dri­ver­less), light­weight and bat­tery-pow­ered. The auto­mat­ed sys­tem will ensure a high fre­quen­cy of ser­vice, timeta­bles adapt­ed to school­child­ren and work­ers, an on-off stop-on-request sys­tem, etc. In addi­tion, the light mate­r­i­al and the options envis­aged in terms of rail design, in par­tic­u­lar the use of new-gen­er­a­tion rails, will ulti­mate­ly make it pos­si­ble to dras­ti­cal­ly reduce imple­men­ta­tion and oper­at­ing costs, and will also incor­po­rate the issue of recy­cling,” adds Mohamed Sallak.

Le magazine

Novembre 2023 - N°61

Activité physique, nutrition & santé

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