When aerospace technology takes to the rails

Train Regio 2N

When aerospace technology
takes to the rails

To develop its Zefiro 380 high-speed train and Regio 2N regional train, Bombardier deployed ‘‘Iron Bird'' test rigs, a technology transfer from aerospace to the rail sector. This transfer was initiated and managed by Safran Engineering Services, and marks a world first.


Busy times at Bombardier's Crespin facility

The Regio 2N regional train program is moving forward quickly at the Canadian train manufacturer's plant in Crespin, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of northern France. A number of staff are busy on the ‘‘Iron Bird''* integrated test platform.
While others are focusing on the computerized control counsel, and still others finish assembling a component in the control bay. Meanwhile, a door is under test, and makes for an imposing sight with all the sensors attached to it. The train is supposed to be stuck out in the country, and an engineer asks:
Homme en simulation
A l'intérieur d'un wagon
Can we please open the door?
Another guy gives the green lights, and all eyes turn to the control panel. The screens quickly display a large amount of data, with all participants adding their own comments.

Testing a train… without the train

"It's really incredible, being able to carry out a test like this,"
says a manager of the Regio 2N program at Bombardier.
He's probably remembering the time – not so long ago – when they had to construct train prototypes so they could be tested on real tracks. Jean, who's taking an active role in these tests, remembers the tests that required voltmeters and oscilloscopes:
saved on the Zefiro 380 high-speed train
Cabine de train
It was impossible to test certain scenarios because of technical or safety reasons. And they were very expensive, which meant we couldn't always repeat a test. That wasn't the only drawback either. The systems installed on the prototypes were often difficult to access. And since we detected certain malfunctions well after the design stage, correcting them was more expensive.
Simulation sur Iron Bird

Iron Bird transforms testing

With the first phase of testing now completed, the program manager notes:
We can now reproduce all cases, and more easily test exceptional situations, like a short circuit in the air-conditioning system.
The team makes a few adjustments to the door for a second test. With the new test rig, they can now perform more tests early in the process, and more quickly. That allows them to accelerate the maturing of the systems under development, and conduct unprecedented failure and rupture tests.

As the manager okays the start of the second phase, he tells Jean:

We save both time and money. For example, on the Zefiro 380 high-speed train, developed a few years ago, we have already saved some 28 million euros because of this test rig.
Gare de trains TGV
Femme sur un quai de garde ferroviaire

A competitive edge

The Iron Bird rail version allows the easy testing of interactions between the train's electronic systems right from the design phase. Because it can simulate both the train's environment and the performance of a component or subassembly, the actual equipment now under development can be gradually integrated, including propulsion, fire detection, brakes, doors and bogies.
In fact, the train manufacturer took an active role in this program, to support innovation through a real partnership. Safran Engineering Services built the test rig, while Bombardier set up all the equipment needed for the test teams to run the train through the controls on the test rig.
Bombardier now deploys two rail Iron Birds, one in Berlin, dedicated to the Zefiro 380, and one in Crespin, for the Regio 2N.
Opérateur de contrôle
Train Zefiro