“Opti-conduct improves regularity, energy savings and comfort”, summarizes Florent Boulet, TER driver, about a digital application that is part of the greenhouse gas reduction plan of SNCF TER in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.
Driving for several minutes without consuming energy is the objective of the Opti-conduct system which will be generalized by SNCF in the TER regional trains of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté by the end of the year. The aim is to help reduce SNCF’s greenhouse gas emissions.
While focusing on the new driving method, the staff of Infos Dijon was exceptionally authorized to follow a Dijon-Chalon-sur-Saône route with the driver.
More TER, less CO2
“TER SNCF is already a virtuous company in environmental terms”, indicates Maud Fontaine, Planeter project manager for SNCF TER in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, “we are doing everything necessary to further reduce our CO2 emissions”.
In 2020, SNCF TER launched the Planeter plan to develop more TER and produce less CO2. The company is committed to “reducing its CO2 emissions by 12% by 2025 (or 6,000 tonnes less), reducing the carbon footprint of passengers by a third and avoiding CO2 emissions by convincing motorists to take the train ”.
According to SNCF TER, “the regional train is an intrinsically ecological mode of transport: today it allows thousands of cars to be left in the garage every day”.
While the transport sector accounts for a third of CO2 emissions in France, the share of TER changes is 0.5%. Carrying 11% of travelers, SNCF therefore presents the TER as already “virtuous”.
In Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, 40% of TER engines run on diesel, 30% are only electric and 30% dual-mode. In France, around half of the lines are electrified.
With Opti-conduct, “we gain in fluidity, we save energy”
Among the concrete actions, Opti-conduct represents a quarter of the greenhouse gas reduction targets. This is an application that is added to Sirius NG (IT System Combining Useful Information to the Service of New Generation Drivers), the dashboard for driving agents designed by the IT service provider Usabilis and installed on digital tablets Apple.
“It gives the driver information on how to drive better, take better advantage of the relief to drive in neutral by analogy with the car”, explains Maud Fontaine, “we gain in fluidity, we save energy, we avoid congestion”.
A first experiment took place in Laroche-Migennes in 2020. Since then, the 400 drivers of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté are in the process of having received a day of training. The generalization of its use will therefore be effective at the end of 2021.
In addition to the data displayed by SIRIUS, Opti-conduct provides additional information on the right time to accelerate or be coasting, “on the move” in the railway garden, with reference to the nautical world. “In general, it is perceived as a tool that helps”, analyzes Maud Fontaine.
At the helm of a Bombardier 81500
Driving agent in Dijon for twelve years – with a professional electro-technical baccalaureate in his pocket – Florent Boulet is at the helm of a large-capacity self-propelled aircraft (AGC), the Canadian Bombardier 81500 – dual mode with two Diesel engines and four electric motors operating at 1,500 volts – for a return trip between Dijon and Chalon-sur-Saône this Tuesday, November 23, 2021.
During his mission preparation, Florent Boulet enters the model of the train. Knowing the geographical profile of the track with slopes and descents, Opti-Conduit then calculates the moments of acceleration or stabilization in speed. Thanks to the geolocation of the train, the parameters are located in real time, for example according to longer than expected stops at the station or slowdowns in the work areas.
On this train equipped for a single agent, the driver manages the opening and closing of the doors. Part of the passenger information is automated, others are performed by the driver such as any stops in the middle of the track.
Reference speed indication
At 7:25 am, the train started when the sun was barely on the horizon. After several successive days of fog, the driver can take advantage of a new unobstructed view of the beautiful landscapes of Burgundy. “Each line has its identity,” he notes. An orange signal appears in the distance, the passage requires all his attention and silence must be in the cabin.
The track speed is displayed on panels at the edge of the ballast and shown on the driver’s tablet. Once past the switches at the exit of Dijon-Ville station, Florent Boulet accelerates quickly to reach the speed of 140 km / h. Subsequently, it will reach 160 km / h, the maximum speed of the TER on the Dijon-Chalon line.
When approaching Gevrey-Chambertin station, Opti-conduct again picks up the track signals and signals the right time to start braking. A blue band then appears. However, 1.2 km from a station, Opti-conduct is systematically deactivated so as not to disturb the driver’s attention. Ditto when the speed drops below 35 km / h.
“It is a module which is added to the Sirius train file and which tells us the reference speed to apply to respect the train path schedule – the train schedule – while saving as much energy as possible”, explains Florent Boulet in turn.
Freewheel as long as possible
Hybrid car drivers should not get lost: it is a question of quickly increasing speed to then take advantage of the penetration into the air and consume energy only to stabilize the speed of the vehicle.
The difference from the road is that, on rail, the brakes are very low and the air resistance of the B 81500 is low. “The goal of Opti-conduct is to make us make the longest possible walks on the wander”, emphasizes the driver. It can reach several kilometers. As a secondary benefit, the brake parts are also less stressed so they will be used less quickly. As a result, the comfort of travelers is improved.
On another line, between Sens and Joigny, Florent Boulet observed long periods conducive to walking on the wander: “for fifteen minutes, I transported passengers without consuming energy for the engine and I arrived at time”.
“Before, it was up to me to calculate how fast to go, Opti-conduct will really optimize this part of walking on the road, at what speed to climb, for how long, and after being on the road and for how long ”, explains the driver. The intuitive dimension is thus systematized by the software.
The software also integrates the approaches to bifurcations and makes it possible to anticipate them to avoid having to stop the train while the bifurcations are closed. In this case, it is the safety of the course which is also improved. “Opti-conduct improves consistency, energy savings, material wear and comfort,” summarizes Florent Boulet.
Dijon-Chalon by TER, an A +++ journey
Gevrey-Chambertin, Beaune, Rully … the stations are scattered along the route where Florent Boulet regularly makes a small sign to the other drivers crossed aboard a Corail, which of a TGV.
During the trip, Maud discussed other SNCF TER actions to reduce CO2 emissions: eco-driving of professional vehicles for agents, the use of digital technology for the organizer, the company’s transport plan and the optimization of passenger train capacities. “We want to make the traveler active in the choice of his mobility”, announces Maud Fontaine.
Just like the energy labels of household appliances or the technical diagnostics of apartments, SNCF plans to communicate in 2022 with a more or less carbon-based consumption scale depending on the modes of mobility chosen for a trip.
Thus, the electrified Dijon-Chalon of 68 km is estimated in A +++ with 5.2 gCO2 / km. On this line, Opti-conduct saves 10% of energy in the absence of events during the journey, ie a consumption of 428 kWh. The equivalent on a non-electrified line would be 122 liters of diesel.
Ecostationing, a complementary approach
Another device concerns the operation of stationary trains; it is about eco-parking. If a train with a combustion engine remains at the platform for more than 30 minutes, depending on the weather conditions, a driver can now shut down the engines.
The consumption of the engine of a stationary train is one third of that of a moving train. Today, technical developments in equipment make it easier to stop and restart a train engine compared to older models.
For the future, SNCF is also looking at agrofuels (from rapeseed plant waste) and hydrogen.
Commitments consistent with the Region
All aspects of Planeter are in line with the environmental commitments of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté regional council, which is the organizing authority for mobility in the region. The Region itself has its ambitions to reduce greenhouse gases.
Arrived at Chalon-sur-Saône, once the passengers have descended, the ladder agent indicates to the driver which platform he must gain following a change causing the train to change lanes. A few moments later, the B 81500 was ready to welcome new passengers, sometimes cyclists, on board to reach the regional capital.