EUROPEAN freight trains are set to benefit from electronic braking controls. Trials in North America have demonstrated the advantages in terms of longer trains and higher productivity, and last year more than a dozen pilot projects were under way, including several revenue applications (RG 2.98 p95).

On March 24 German Federal Railway and French National Railways chose a consortium of Alstom and SAB Wabco to design and specify the future standard electronic brake control and on-board communications system for freight trains in Europe. Two trains will be equipped with the prototype European Freight Intelligent System (Efis), and a fleet of 130 wagons and four locos will be used to test both wired and radio-based communications on trains up to 2250m long. The equipment ’maintains compatibility with UIC standards’ and can be retrofitted to existing wagons. As in North America, a communications link on board the trains opens up numerous possibilities for intelligent systems such as health monitoring and advanced train handling.