For the TSB passenger transport system, Max Bögl uses commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) systems from HIMA
In conceptual terms the TSB is designed for urban passenger transport over distances of one to 50 kilometres and is based on magnetic levitation train technology (or maglev: magnetic levitation, for short). In essence the TSB concept is a driverless, automated passenger transport system with an asynchronous short stator linear drive. This means that in the TSB, unlike older systems such as, e.g. the Transrapid, the active part of the system is incorporated in the vehicle and not on the track. It is comprised of an electromagnetic levitation system with a combined levitation and guidance function which, in combination with one or more powered sections, forms the complete vehicle. Up to 127 passengers can be carried per vehicle section. Unlike magnetic levitation trains which run at slower speeds – such as at airports – the maximum speed of the TSB, up to 150 km/h, is much higher and therefore presents much greater challenges for the safety technology.
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With HIMA COTS control systems, TSB meets the highest safety requirements
HIMA also presented the development roadmap and future plans for development to Max Bögl straight away in 2013 as well. Within the framework of a very early consultation agreement, the basis for an effective working relationship between the two companies was established.
To be able to realize the absolutely reliable operation of the TSB, Max Bögl eventually decided to use the HIMax and HIMatrix COTS controllers from HIMA, which are certified for use up to the highest safety level SIL4 in accordance with EN 50126, 50128 and 50129.
So-called COTS controllers are standardized systems which are produced in large quantities and have already proven themselves in numerous safety-critical applications, including applications outside the rail industry.
The use of standard components provides railway operators with flexibility when it comes to the choice of suppliers of individual sub-systems as well. Furthermore, with the products of the Smart Safety Platform, HIMA combines functional safety and security aspects in such a way that HIMA solutions are effectively protected against cyberattacks in a digital environment. The Smart Safety Platform from HIMA enables railway operators to modify and combine the controllers to individual requirements and quickly adapt to changing safety or legal requirements.
First TSB test tracks and positive decision notices from the German Federal Railway Authority
From the start, Max Bögl has developed the TSB magnetic rail technology with rigorous prioritization on the highest safety standards. A test track has been in operation at Max Bögl headquarters in Sengenthal in Germany since 2012, and this has been progressively extended to its current length of 860 m.
Test driving involving 125,000 individual journeys over a total of 85,000 kilometres has so far been successfully completed. In China, a 3.5-kilometre demonstration track is in operation in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. China is a key potential market for TSB: With a population of around 1.4 billion people, China is the most populous country on earth. Cities such as Shanghai already have populations over 23 million. The Chinese government regards quiet local passenger transport systems as strategically important technology for its country. There are therefore plans to introduce people movers with above ground tracks as well.
Local passenger transport systems with above ground tracks involve far less civil engineering work than conventional underground railways and therefore cost far less, and could also run right through residential areas without causing noise disruption and vibrations.
In August 2020, Max Bögl received assurances from the German Federal Railway Authority (Eisenbahn-Bundesamt, EBA) that the core components of the vehicle and track comply with requirements and are therefore eligible for approval. In October 2020, the EBA also provided confirmation that the specifications of the TSB operations control system fulfil the requirements for subsequent type approval. The next step is to acquire an operating license for the first section of the TSB in Germany. The notices already issued by the EBA are important prerequisites for this step. International recognition by the EBA for compliance with its high standards is very important, as it opens up the possibility of simplified approval procedures in other European countries. In addition, a further advantage is that the Chinese authorities will consider the technical documents verified by the EBA when approving the TSB in China. To obtain approval in China, the Max Bögl group of companies will be supported by its Chinese partner Xinzhu.
TSB - an example for future mobility
Thanks to the magnetic levitation technology, the TSB is scarcely audible and generates minimal noise and vibration emissions. The reason: Compared with conventional systems, the TSB avoids the high loads at the wheel-rail contact point, which are the main cause of vibration and noise. Instead, the transport system distributes the loads evenly into the track without contact. As a result, the TSB is very quiet and manages with significantly smaller substructures for the track. Floating without contact offers other significant advantages as well: There is no mechanical wear and, as a consequence, only low maintenance costs.
Since the track is suitable for elevated, ground level and underground use, it is also capable of being readily integrated in urban areas, and with a height of 1.2 metres and a length of 23.5 metres, the track beam is relatively narrow and light. In addition, the track does not have an overhead line.
With the TSB our aim is to deliver an efficient, turn-key complete system which redefines the future of mobility. We undertake everything from the planning to the industrial production of the track and the vehicle, installation on site and the operation of the system.
Use of COTS controllers in the TSB
A key advantage for Max Bögl is that HIMA is in a position to supply all the products and services of relevance for the railway safety technology from a single source. In addition to the HIMax and HIMatrix COTS controllers in accordance with CENELEC SIL4, HIMA also provides technical support with respect to the implementation of the TSB. Moreover, HIMA also provided the Max Bögl group with advance versions of the software for the aforementioned controllers. The developers of the TSB were therefore able to plan for the new features and provide HIMA with feedback in turn. As a result, both sides benefited from this exchange. Max Bögl was also able to count on the tested SilworX programming tool from HIMA and the HIMax X-OTS safety simulator during the development and testing of the TSBs. HIMA also provided Max Bögl with support on all questions concerning the use of the systems. The application with the COTS controllers was then carried out by engineers at Max Bögl completely independently.
The controllers are installed both “on-board” in the TSB test vehicles and “on-track” on the magnetic levitation railway track itself. Both products come from a single product family and are implemented with high availability in the vehicles and the application. The HIMatrix controllers are deployed on a redundant basis, i.e. two-channel as required for a high-availability design. This is easily possible because the application is restricted to linear logic. In the TSB, each train has a master computer for the processing of the generic information. This is used to control and monitor the individual safety functions in the vehicles. This includes, for example, the monitoring of the levitation system, speed and braking distance. This master computers are based on a HIMax controller from HIMA. In each train segment of the TSBs, key tasks are also performed by two redundant HIMatrix systems. They are responsible, for example, not just for the control of the movement and the magnetic levitation systems of the TSBs, but the control of the air conditioning and the doors of the respective train segment. On the track the controllers from HIMA monitor the positions of the TSB vehicles and thus prevent collisions.
The advantages of the COTS controllers pay off for Max Bögl
The CENELEC SIL4-certified HIMA controllers have already been able to demonstrate their strengths in diverse approval processes in the railway industry, because they are considered as components which are already approved and pre-certified.
The operating systems of these controllers are based on globally available standard programming languages in accordance with IEC 61131 and provide interfaces to all important technologies such as Ethernet, RS485 or RS232. Communication takes place via broadly accessible protocols such as CAN bus or Profinet. However, with Safe Ethernet there is also a high-performance HIMA internal protocol available via which the remote I/O modules of the modular controllers are operated.
Standardization and widespread use of programming languages commonly used in industry in accordance with IEC 61131 make COTS controllers significantly easier to operate and maintain. They come with significant planning reliability, including the availability of spare parts and software updates. This significantly reduces operating and life cycle costs with the same level of safety in comparison with proprietary technology. In addition, such systems are highly future-proof, because they can be adapted to meet future requirements and can be enhanced with additional new functions with relatively little effort. This is all due to their varied I/O modularity, their integrated interfaces to various bus systems and their powerful processors. Systems, for example driverless trains (automated train operation – ATO), just like the TSB, platform clearance procedures with cameras, door controls, powertrain monitoring, or Europe-wide train protection functions can therefore best be implemented with a consistent COTS train protection system.
For us, the use of COTS controllers for the TSB has many benefits. The HIMax and HIMatrix controllers used for the TSB are not only certified for use up to safety level SIL4, they also make our work easier in terms of implementation and, as pre-certified components, they also make certification of the TSBs simpler.
We have benefited considerably from the close cooperation with HIMA on the TSB test projects. Our main objective, to deliver a turn-key complete system for future mobility in the form of the TSB, had valuable support with the future-proof COTS controllers from HIMA.