There are efforts to develop today's freight trains, on which neither power nor data communication are implemented, into intelligent freight trains, with which the predominantly manual operations on the 'last mile' - shunting, train composition, freight handling, etc. - are to be replaced by automation such as automatic coupling/ uncoupling, brake testing, etc.
The prerequisite for automation is the availability of power and data communication over the entire train, which must meet high reliability requirements (e.g. for the brake or train integrity systems) and functional safety for integration into the train control systems (in future ETCS Level 3) and it must be at the same time economical. Crucial for reliability is the transmission of data via the coupling between the wagons with the lowest possible number of pin/plug contacts and simultaneous fulfilment of the communication requirements of the safety-critical on-board systems. This is neither possible with wireless nor with mobile radio technologies.
Power Line Communication (PLC) is a very promising candidate for this, in that the power line is reused over the entire train for data communication. Therefore, only the contacts of the power coupling are required in the coupling, but no further contacts for the data coupling.
CC ISN is researching and developing a Power Line Communication Train Backbone (PTB) for the Intelligent Freight Train, working closely with national and international train system suppliers as well as rail operators. The PTB technology is tested in the DAC4EU und the EC Shift2Rail European Digital-Automatic-Coupler Delivery Programme.