October 19, 2017


French national rail operator SNCF, the Railenium test and research centre, Thales, Actia Telecom and the French space agency CNES are launching the TC-Rail remote train operation project. Scheduled to last 42 months, the project aims to demonstrate the ability for a driver to operate a train remotely while retaining a very high level of safety.

SNCF, Railenium, Thales, Actia Telecom and CNES came together today in Saint-Denis at SNCF’s technology renewal facility to launch the TC-Rail project designed to produce two remote train operation (RTO) demonstrators.
Remote operation is a key building block of future driverless trains. Employing communication between a train and a remote facility, and a remote operation human-machine interface (HMI), it will enable trains to be controlled remotely in certain degraded modes.
The chief challenge facing this project will be to clear the main technical hurdles involved in safely operating trains remotely.
SNCF is expecting to build a first operational demonstrator at the start of 2019. However, the plan is to adapt remote train operation to a broad range of applications: for example, freight and regional trains, trains on the Transilien commuter network in the Paris region and TGV high-speed trains could be shunted to and from maintenance centres remotely in the medium term.
A range of industrial and academic competencies will be required to implement the full remote train operation system, as reflected in the composition of the TC-Rail project consortium:
•    SNCF, the end customer, will be in charge of coordinating technical aspects and demonstration work packages to evaluate developments during the project in real conditions
•    Railenium, with its own resources and its solid network of researchers—from the IFSTTAR institute of science and technology for transport, development and networks, UTC, Lille 1 University and Valenciennes University—will provide its expertise for the development of the remote train operation HMI, land telecommunications, safety demonstrations and cybersecurity
•    Thales will be supplying its expertise in train-to-ground telecommunications, as well as in reliability, availability, maintainability and safety (RAMS), and cybersecurity
•    Actia Telecom will be contributing its know-how in satellite telecommunications
•    CNES will be providing technical expertise and support in the field of satellite systems

Pierre Izard – Chief Technology and Rail Systems Officer, SNCF
“The TC-Rail project is central to SNCF’s strategy for its future trains, built on developing various levels of automation, for which the remote train operation demonstrator is the first step. SNCF has chosen to conceive its automated trains working with public research partners and leading, innovative industry players, and is firmly committed to paving the way for the trains of the future, harnessing the energies of a dynamic sector.”

Éric Tregoat – Chief Executive, Railenium
“The TC-Rail project ties in with Railenium’s automated trains programme, which is pursuing disruptive approaches aimed at making the whole rail sector more competitive. This programme is leveraging our ability to integrate new rail technologies to develop technology building blocks that can be used for automated train demonstrators while minimizing the impact on infrastructure, notably through artificial intelligence, geolocation, telecommunications, formal methods and studies gauging the impact of human factors at different levels of automation.”

Daniel Labeda – Chief Executive, Actia Telecom
“Actia Telecom is very proud to be involved in TC-Rail, an ambitious and forward-looking project aligned with our strategy, in partnership with some big French industry players and renowned laboratories. We shall be bringing our ability to innovate and our experience in the field of telecommunications and embedded rail systems to the project. We firmly believe that together we will converge towards a solution that meets the rail sector’s requirements for remote train operation in the future.”

Jean-Yves Le Gall, CNES President
“Satellites offer the rail sector and all mobility players better precision, global coverage, enhanced services and optimized costs. CNES is conceiving innovative solutions around satellite-based positioning systems like Galileo and satellite telecommunications systems. I am pleased that we are stepping up our partnership with SNCF to work together on tackling the technological challenges of remote train operation, which is a flagship programme for the future of the rail sector.”

About SNCF
SNCF is a global leader in passenger and freight transport services with revenues of €32.3 billion in 2016, of which one-third came from international markets. With 260,000 employees in 120 countries, SNCF draws on its foundations in French rail and on its extensive experience as an architect of transport services. It aims to become the benchmark for mobility and logistics solutions, both in France and worldwide. SNCF has six core businesses: SNCF Réseau (management and operation of the French rail network); SNCF Voyageurs (commuter transport in the Paris region, regional and inter-city public transport, high-speed rail in France and Europe); SNCF Gares & Connexions (management and development of stations); SNCF Logistics (freight transport and logistics worldwide); Keolis (mass transit and public transport in Europe and around the globe); and SNCF Immobilier (management and optimization of SNCF property and land assets). For more information, see sncf.com.
Press contact:
SNCF Group: +33 (0)1 85 07 89 89
About Railenium
Railenium, the rail technology test and research centre, is tasked with boosting business competitiveness to generate growth and jobs through collaborative innovation.
Railenium is engaged in innovation partnerships with industry—infrastructure managers, operators, manufacturers and engineering firms—and academia to execute foundational projects for the rail sector.
Press contact:
RP Carrées    Benoît Renart  I  +33 (0)  I  benoit.renart@rp-carrees.com  I
    Sophie Lussiez  I  +33 (0)  I  sophie.lussiez@rp-carrees.com  I

About Thales
Thales is a global technology leader for the Aerospace, Transport, Defence and Security markets. With 64,000 employees in 56 countries, Thales reported sales of €14.9 billion in 2016. With over 25,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design and deploy equipment, systems and services to meet the most complex security requirements. Its exceptional international footprint allows it to work closely with its customers all over the world.
Press contact: Sonia Le Guével  I  +33 (0)1 57 77 91 60  I  sonia.leguevel@thalesgroup.com  |

About Actia Telecom
With 250 employees and €40 million in revenues in 2016, Actia Telecom is the Telecommunications division of the Actia group. Through its business expertise, its ability to innovate and the potential of its R&D teams, Actia Telecom offers a range of data transmission solutions, in particular for rail systems.
Press contact: Nadine Vialettes  I  +33 (0)5 65 62 37 40  I  Nadine.VIALETTES@actiatelecom.fr  |

About CNES
CNES is the government agency responsible for shaping France’s space policy and implementing it in Europe. Its task is to conceive and orbit satellites, invent the space systems of the future and nurture new services to aid us in our daily lives. Founded in 1961, it is the initiator of major space projects, launch vehicles and satellites, and the partner of choice for industry, supporting exports and fuelling innovation. CNES is determined to invent the future of space, working to further applications in five core areas of focus: Ariane, science, Earth observation, telecommunications and defence. It is a key player driving technology research, economic development and industrial policy for the nation. It also fosters scientific collaborations and has forged numerous international partnerships. France, represented by CNES, is the leading contributor to the European Space Agency (ESA), which conducts Europe’s space policy on behalf of its 22 member states.

Press contact: Fabienne Lissak  I  +33 (0)1 44 76 78 37  I  fabienne.lissak@cnes.fr  I