We are addressing at our “railway scale” the same challenges the world is due to address at a larger scale.
Ahead of SmartMetro Madrid on 25-27th November, 2019, we sat down with our amazing speaker Stéphane Callet, Project Manager / CBTC System Engineer for SNCF's NExTEO project, to find out a bit more about his job and what makes him tick.
As an industry expert, Stéphane will be present at SmartMetro, where he will share his knowledge on CBTC systems and the latest updates on Paris' E line. To find out more about him, his work, and what his favourite train journeys are, read the interview below.
First off, a bit of background: How did you started your current career path, what does your position as Project Manager / CBTC System Eng. NExTEO entails?
I started in the railway industry by joining Matra, a former leader of GOA4 and automatic train systems. I was mainly involved in design and system engineering on signalling and ATC systems, with a heavy dose of telecom engineering. Then I shifted to O&M engineering: operational rules writing, maintenance performance optimization, etc and on to CBTC projects.
How has the rail industry changed since you started working in it?
Railway is an exciting industry, allowing to travel and discover a lot of different engineering fields: mechanical, electronics, software, IT, and more. Since I started, we moved to GOA4 and digital systems, and telecommunication (e.g. wayside/onboard) is nowadays a cornerstone of the system. Many manufacturers merged, while a new family of transportation solutions arose : CBTC.
What industry challenges do you identify as the most pressing ones, and how is SNCF tackling them?
Among the many different challenges SNCF is tackling, mass transit is the one that we have to deal with rapidly. We have to find relevant answers to high performance, robustness, and high efficiency, as well as optimized regulation regarding people flows and energy consumption. We are addressing at our “railway scale” the same challenges the world is due to address at a larger scale.
What is the goal of the NEXTEO project?
NEXTEO is the “computing heart” of the Paris E line extension. The E line extension to the western part of Paris consists of an 8km-long new tunnel and 3 new stations irrigating (La Défense), the major business district of the greater Paris area. We have to deliver a solution that allows to double the line traffic -- from 300,000 to over 600,000 passengers a day -- on a line that is linked to an “open” network.
What differentiates the radio link of Paris’ E line from others around the world?
The solution will be based on a 802.11 5.9 GHz solution. In Paris, CBTC lines use mainly custom radio solutions and are deployed in tunnels. The one we’ll use on the E line is an IP based solution on a “open” network (different interpenetrating lines, neighbouring road traffic, etc).
Any pros and cons unique to it that is helping or obstructing progress?
Our systems are requesting a very high level of availability, and therefore the radio link must provide the highest level of quality even with neighbouring road systems using 5.9 GHz V2V/ V2X radio, as well.
What were the most noteworthy challenges you guys solved or are in the process of solving?
We face environmental conditions that are quite different from those in urban lines, where the radio solutions have been already deployed. Typically, our trains will run at speeds reaching 120 km/h or more, and we have catenaries and AC current for traction power instead of DC third rail, as well as longer train lengths with multiple units. And, as mentioned above, we have to cope with other Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) -- either road or rail systems -- due to our “open” rail network neighbouring roads and other train networks.
What current and possible future trends in CBTC interest you the most?
Providing smart train regulation in a complex environment (mixed lines, “open” networks, different train types, etc) is probably a promising field of progress for CBTC. Smart rail solutions may offer a real step forward dealing with multiple constraints like energy saving, being on time and/or proving best headway.
What's the biggest professional challenge you've ever faced?
During the last decade, I had the opportunity to work on an GOA4 upgrade program (Line 1 in Paris - RATP); it was an exciting project, in which traffic could not be interrupted while we were upgrading the line with CBTC, new trains, new train control, new train regulation, new telecom system, and new operational rules, all fitting within this GOA4 line. Thanks to many enthusiastic people, the project could be delivered with the highest level of quality.
Are there any past projects in your life you're proud of? Are there any upcoming ones you're excited about?
Railway projects allow you to meet extraordinary people and share quite strong experiences. I was fascinated by the TKE Line extension project in Hong Kong (MTRC) that I worked for -- high customer requirements, short term delivery, multi-cultural teams... we did it, and we were all very proud of it.
Finally, a question we ask all our interviewees: what's your favourite rail journey in the world, and why?
Night trains ! As a kid, I was used to travel from Paris towards Copenhagen -- you feel asleep in France and woke up in northern Europe. Fantastic.
Nowadays, I get the same feeling from years ago when travelling in the night train to the French Alps. You should try it!
To meet Stephane and many other wonderful speakers and decision makers, come and join us at SmartMetro Madrid on 25-27th October 2019!