HyperloopTT digital simulation

Digital rail signalling tested for hyperloop

Image credit: Hitachi Rail/HyperloopTT

One of the companies developing hyperloop transport systems is working with a rail partner to use standard railway signalling for traffic management.

HyperloopTT and Hitachi Rail say they have achieved an important milestone towards the commercial running of the innovative system, which will be able to run at speeds of up to 1,200km/h, with the completion of proof of concept for a cloud-based ERTMS signalling system for HyperloopTT’s capsules.

Hyperloops are intended to move passengers and cargo at high speed in vehicle ‘pods’ or capsules travelling through partially evacuated tubes. ERTMS, the European Rail Traffic Management System, is a set of standards originally designed to let trains run anywhere in the European Union, but it is now being deployed in many other parts of the world too.

Working from Hitachi Rail’s site in Naples, Italy, the partnership has created a digital simulator that allows for the integrated testing of the traffic management, the signalling and some of the physical safety requirements of the hyperloop system. The team is now developing an interface with HTT’s simulators for functional integration.

By replacing the capabilities of complex physical equipment with cloud-based software, the solution is said to offer greater reliability, greater flexibility in deployment and lower maintenance costs, as well as being more sustainable.

The simulator can also help to make HyperloopTT more efficient by automating repetitive tasks and detecting and managing potential disruptions, instead of reacting to events as they occur.

The system is based on ERTMS and ETCS L2 (European Train Control System Level 2) signalling technology to simulate the regulation and control of capsules moving at very high speeds. ERTMS has the benefit of being used and recognised internationally, making it highly interoperable, thereby allowing HyperloopTT systems to operate safely across the world without the need to create new standards.

Having completed the simulation model, the next step in the process would be to digitally integrate both the signalling infrastructure and the cloud-based model for the physical capsules. This would open the door to moving to physical testing of the whole system at HyperloopTT’s test track in Toulouse.

Andres De Leon, CEO of HyperloopTT, said: “We’re delighted to have collaborated with [Hitachi Rail] on this cutting-edge simulation of ERTMS and ECTS systems on our hyperloop, which takes us one step closer to achieving our goal of creating the world’s fastest, most efficient, and most affordable end-to-end transportation solution. We love working with partners that can help us unlock technical advancements with minimal investment and this project is a great example of that.” 

Leonardo Impagliazzo, chief director of innovation at Hitachi Rail, said: “This partnership allows us to evolve our best-in-class signalling and automation systems and to customise it for HyperloopTT’s super-high-speed transport. We are excited about this achievement and are looking ahead to the next stage of the programme.”

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