Foto: ingegneria e digitalizzazione

The continuously improving results achieved on the Italian network and the prestigious awards received at international level allow the Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane Group to strengthen its position within Europe and in other international markets.

The Mediterranean, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Latin America, USA, India and Australia are the main areas where Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane is active, exporting Italian excellence to develop railway networks in those countries.

The main services offered in the international market relate to engineering, the management of passenger transport, logistics, infrastructures and stations.

Italferr's role on the international stage

Italferr is an engineering service company for traditional, high-velocity and urban transport which deals with planning, management and supervision of work, construction tender projects and project management activity for large infrastructure investments by the FS Italiane Group. Italferr works in Italia and in 40 other countries around the world (Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Turkey, Iran, Asia, India and the Americas). 

Overseas contracts recently acquired by Italferr, together with Generali Costruzioni Ferroviarie (Gcf) and Mermec (measurement specialists) include: the new high-speed Tehran-Qom-Esfahan (440 kilometres electrified twin-track) which will link the main cities in Iran; the rail link between Esenboga Airport and Ankara (27 km) in Turkey; the design of a 750 metre-long suspension railway bridge between Katra and Reasi, above a 200-metre drop, in India; the renewal of the French railway network; infrastructure installations in the Ceneri Base Tunnel, in the Canton of Ticino; inspection of the Finnish rail network; inspection of the railway network of the City of San Francisco and the Bay counties in the United States.

Through these foreign contracts, Italferr confirms its role as a global player in designing large-scale works, exporting internationally the know how of Italian railways, which is appreciated throughout the world.

The distance diagnosis technology applied to managing dynamic and predictive maintenance (Dynamic Maintenance Management System)

Trenitalia and SAP have worked on a predictive maintenance system for trains which uses the Internet of Things principle – the interconnection of real objects that talk with each other, accessing information or transmitting data through connectivity, software and sensors. The innovative process is based on the SAP platform Hana, which means that big data can be dynamically generated thanks to the numerous sensors present on the new trains. Any anomaly or the end of a life cycle of a component are communicated in advance, thus completely transforming the way in which maintenance is handled, changing it from reactive to predictive.

The latest-generation distance diagnosis system which was applied in its first phase to high-velocity trains, has also been extended to the regional Jazz trains so as to reduce breakages and breakdowns during service and reduce maintenance costs, to the advantage of millions of commuters who use the train to get around every day. Amongst the first significant results has been a large reduction in the number of cancellations of regional trains because of technical problems. In the first half of 2016, one per cent of scheduled trains were cancelled, and only 0.4% where Trenitalia was responsible. This level more than halved in just two years.

The new maintenance model uses real time diagnostic information from train convoys that make up the Jazz train fleet. Special instrument panels mean that the overall state of the fleet and that of individual trains can be monitored during service and the real time state of on-board devices can be flagged up and the appearance of any possible breakages or criticalities identified.

The telediagnosis system being tried by Trenitalia, which is active on E464 locomotives and on all Jazz trains that travel in the various regions of Italy, is the first significant step towards dynamic and predictive maintenance (Dynamic Maintenance Management System). It actually represents the crucial step towards an innovative type activity based mainly on predictive analysis and on conditions.

Indeed, during the subsequent project phases, advanced ground-based diagnostic systems will be available with evolved functions to calculate the wear on components, predictive algorithms to identify any malfunction and optimisation instruments needed to carry out a service which increasingly meets the demands of commuters throughout Italy.

The installation of the tele-diagnosis system is scheduled to be extended to the entire regional fleet.

Engineering and digitalisation

The “light diagnostic” system is being tried out, in association with Milan Polytechnic, to check the quality of train-rail interaction, which is able to connect to a central location to communicate in real time the indicators and alarms for exceeding certain levels, which can show problems on board the train itself or on the ground.

Digital technologies are having a profound impact on the future of mobility, with Artificial Intelligence, the Cloud and big data driving new trends in the sector, including for mobility as a service and intermodality. The FS Group aspires to drive the country through value creation and contributing to an increasingly-sustainable multi-modal mobility of people and freight.

Extended Customer Experience

In line with the strategic objectives, the FS Group offers its customers a new "travel philosophy" by providing convenient tools to the traveller, with real-time travel solutions, information and suggestions, as occasions and opportunities to be seized.

The aim is to offer a journey planner that knows the customer and advises them on the best way forward, from the planning of the journey to its conclusion; an objective that is achievable thanks to big data and advanced analysis tools combined with suitable digital platforms.

Thus was born an Extended Customer Experience that aims to enter people’s lives on a daily basis with services such as the travel companion, indoor mapping of the station, an electronic wallet, notifications on any delays, video chat and social seating.

Digital smart caring

Smart Caring is a useful service for informing users about rail traffic in real time.

The free Trenitalia App, available for all devices with iOS and Android operating systems, offers what travellers have long been asking for: better management of their time. Once Smart Caring notifications are activated, the user – simply by indicating the train number and/or the origin or destination – will be able to receive timely information about any works or changes to the line, partial and/or total cancellations of trains with an indication of replacement vehicles (buses, ferries and so on) where foreseen, along with delays of more than 15 minutes plus information on strikes.

BIM & Information Management

The FS Group has embarked on a path of change in its way of designing, starting by applying the methodology of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the field of railway infrastructure. BIM makes it possible to generate a digital information model that contains details of the entire life cycle of a construction project, from its design and realisation to demolition and decommissioning.

Within the FS Group, Italferr holds a leading position on the Italian and international scene in the application of BIM for the efficient management and maintenance of railway assets and beyond, developing and reconstructing faithful and complete copies of works, known as the digital twin.

This technology has been applied to map and analyse St Peter’s Basilica with the aim of constantly monitoring the health of the structure and possible future maintenance activities. Starting in August 2022, the project was successfully completed after 4 months, resulting in a perfect digital model of the Vatican’s Basilica.

Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, a member of the FS Italiane Group that manages the national infrastructure, is responsible for the maintenance of over 16,700 km of network on which approximately 9,000 trains circulate on average every day. To ensure the maintenance of its high standards of safety, reliability, and quality of the railway infrastructure throughout the country, RFI adopts certified maintenance processes and sophisticated diagnostic tools while maintaining a "complex" system that involves both civil engineering projects, such as bridges and tunnels, and the sophisticated technologies that regulate railway circulation.

The results achieved so far have been possible thanks to important investments in maintenance. The careful planning of maintenance activities make it possible to extend the life cycle of the infrastructure, optimizing the initial investment.

There are three types of interventions in the RFI maintenance system:

  • Ordinary: maintenance actions to contain the natural wear process of the materials that make up the infrastructure;
  • Overtime: actions aimed at renewing and replacing subsystems or components, which determine the reliability, productivity, efficiency and safety of the network;
  • Exceptional: unplanned actions as determined by exceptional events and external causes.

Mobile diagnostics

In order to obtain up-to-date data on the state of the railway infrastructure and promptly eliminate any eventual causes of abnormalities, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (FS Group) uses a fleet of trains for mobile diagnostics. These special trains also make it possible to plan and schedule maintenance works.

So-called Measurement Trains run through the entire network, checking the technical parameters of the infrastructure based on the coordinates of their position.