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EGNSS-R performs a feasibility study on the introduction of a EGNSS-based rail safety service

30th November 2020

The “European GNSS Navigation Safety Service for Rail” project, hereafter called EGNSS-R project, aims at studying the feasibility of the European Global Navigation Satellite System (EGNSS – EGNOS and Galileo) introduction in railway safety critical applications in order to enhance the use of rail transportation mode for citizens and businesses by improving location-based services


To deal with its growing market, railway sector has to improve its efficiency while ensuring safety and attractiveness. As for any transportation mean, localization is a key issue, especially in signaling applications (e.g. ensuring train segregation, carrying out train movement authority) as they require accurate, reliable and continuous position.

Historically, signaling systems are specific to each European country. However, European Commission has started to encourage the development of a European control-command, signaling and communication system – ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) in order to harmonize national standards and to allow the creation of a single European railway area. In ERTMS, localization is currently computed by odometry sensor and absolute references (Eurobalises) or trackside position sensors (track circuits, axle counters, etc.). Position is a key point of signaling applications as low reliability or low performance of this parameter implies:

  • Operational impacts such as delays due to unexpected braking, difficulty to approach a target, loss of capacity, distance increase between trains;
  • Direct cost impact such as maintenance costs of the whole system, extra maintenance due to device failures and premature wear resulting from unexpected and excessive braking and the need to raise the density of balises and trackside position systems.

Already widely used in railway non safety relevant applications, potential future introduction of GNSS technology in railway safety applications has been identified as a game changer by railway operators.

Indeed, by improving train localization performances, an EGNSS-based railway safety service could enable a significant reduction of railway exploitation costs and increase railway capability. Therefore, this localization service can promote and accelerate the sustainable ERTMS deployment by better location-based services (e.g. improve customer information, optimal traffic management system, etc.) in Europe and finally enhance the use of the rail mode.

In line with this, the main objective of EGNSS-R project is to carry out a feasibility analysis for an EGNSS-based rail safety service beyond 2022. In order to optimize existing or future EGNSS services, such as EGNOS V3, GSA is conducting studies to translate aviation approaches into railway domain. However, due to the GNSS limitations in the railway environment (e.g. tunnel, masking, multipath, etc.), satellite-based technologies cannot be the only means of navigation and integrity when it comes to control command and signaling system of the train. To bring continuous integrity on board all European trains, the EGNSS-R project studies a mix of EGNSS and navigation techniques to bridge railway satellite weaknesses.

EGNSS-R is undertaken by a consortium of three partners (i.e. Airbus Defense & Space, SNCF and FDC). Its duration is one year and a half. This project has received funding of 400 000 € from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 762/PP/GRO/RCH/19/11304.

The primary roles of FDC are to provide technical expertise on GNSS and security issues, gather legal, safety and regulatory requirements and to propose a roadmap for the implementation and adoption of a possible EGNSS-based safety service tailored for the rail community. FDC also supports the project interactions with key railway stakeholders and GNSS receiver manufacturers, associated in the consolidation and validation of the service concept.

More information on the EGNSS-R dedicated webpage.