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Protagonists of safety at LC

GCF a key player in level crossing safety


GCF's PAI-PL radar for level crossings

With the awarding of Lot 1 of the maxi-tender, RFI Generale Costruzioni Ferroviarie, in Rti with Circet Italia, confirms its leading role in the railway safety sector and, in particular, in PAI-PL (Automatic Integrative Level Crossing Protection) technology.

The sum envisaged - more than 131 million, which, with the +50% option, could rise to almost 200 - will allow a few hundred level crossings throughout Italy to be made safe over the next three years by equipping them with GCF's proprietary 'Radar Eye'.

"The awarding of Lot 1 - comments Giuseppe Brecciaroli, who from July 2023 with the reorganisation of the corporate governance structure will hold the position of Executive Director of GCF and GEFER - is a gratifying confirmation of the company's strategies of investing in innovation, adopting industrial policies aimed at acquiring and enhancing the best skills in the fields of research and development and safety”.

PAI-PL: technology at the service of vehicle and train safety

PAI-PL is the name of an innovative auxiliary technology dedicated to the detection of obstacles in railway level crossings, in the area delimited by the barriers. Based on laser or radar systems, it is able to detect the presence of any vehicles that, stationary or in motion, occupy the inside of the monitored area during the closure of the barriers and, if so, to automatically interact with the signalling system by sending the "Busy" signal and preventing the risk of impact.

"GCF's proprietary LCP (Level Crossing Protection) System - explains engineer Mattia Baraldi, Director of GCF's IS, Tlc, R&D, AT Technology Divisions - for radar PAI-PL applications is a SIL 4 system, of absolute safety, qualified in accordance with the RFI specification and compliant with the latest RFI standards. Its installation flexibility makes it suitable even for 'difficult' situations, and the radar technology guarantees its effectiveness even in extreme weather conditions, in rain, snowfall, dense fog banks”.

The recent development of this auxiliary technology, which is far less costly than the construction of subways and overpasses, has enabled RFI to give a strong boost to the project of making level crossings safe, and to prepare a robust Framework Agreement for the "design, construction of PAI PL systems and related maintenance and assistance services" at the end of 2023: EUR 494 million for making safe - it is estimated - about 1,200 level crossings. With the +50% option, this would amount to EUR 741 million and about 1,800 PL, about half of those still existing (there were 7,700 in 2000) on the 16,800 km of active railway lines.

Six lots have been prepared, 3 for laser technology PAI-PLs and 3 (for 59% of the total amount) for radar technology; of all of them, Lot 1 - awarded to GCF-Circet - is the largest: 131,200,000 euro, or 26.5% of the total amount.

GCF and its commitment to level crossing safety

Radar pole

Immune to atmospheric events

Radar pole

Sensors Radar at 77GHz
Large field of view (FOV)

Signalling

Signal of "Prevented Way"

LCP cabinet

Signalling interface

Stuck train

Automatic train block

Reference Object

Off-grid
For radar self-calibration

Reference Object

Off-grid
For radar self-calibration

Monitored area

Monitored area: up to 370sqm
Obstacles detected: from 40 cm

Video acquisition system

IP camera
Streaming to central server
  • Radar pole

    Immune to atmospheric events
  • Radar pole

    Sensors Radar at 77GHz
    Large field of view (FOV)
  • Signalling

    Signal of "Prevented Way"
  • LCP cabinet

    Signalling interface
  • Stuck train

    Automatic train block
  • Reference Object

    Off-grid
    For radar self-calibration
  • Reference Object

    Off-grid
    For radar self-calibration
  • Monitored area

    Monitored area: up to 370sqm
    Obstacles detected: from 40 cm
  • Video acquisition system

    IP camera
    Streaming to central server

GCF's direct involvement in the design, manufacture and installation of PAI-PL devices has been boosted in recent years also by virtue of strategic operations that have enabled the company to reinvigorate its production facilities, integrate its design and engineering skills, and expand its portfolio of offerings in the railway signalling and safety sector.

The awarding by RFI of a EUR 15 million Framework Agreement for the provision of technical assistance, maintenance, repair, installation, upgrade and reconfiguration services for the PAI-PL systems in GCF S.p.A.'s proprietary technology, present on the RFI Network, in addition to a previous contract for the supply of 81 PAI-PL systems; the contract with Ferrovie del Sud Est to equip the Bari-Taranto railway line with PAI-PL systems (see in-depth news) and, now, the awarding of Lot 1, worth over 130 million euro, of the RFI tender for the design, construction and installation of PAI-PL systems and related maintenance and assistance services, to be put into service in the three-year period 2025-27, confirm the leading role achieved by GCF among the players in the railway safety technology sector.

“GCF's proprietary LCP (Level Crossing Protection) system employs automotive-derived high-frequency radar technology - emphasises Mr Baraldi - as it uses the same sensors installed in self-driving cars. This guarantees total immunity to optical refraction problems that can disrupt the reliability of laser technologies in adverse weather conditions,' he says".

Tested to withstand extreme weather conditions, it continues to operate in rain of up to 100 mm/h (100 litres/hour) per square metre, in snowfall of up to 30 cm (12 in), and in fog even with zero horizontal visibility. A wide field of view of the sensors and the width of the monitored area, installation flexibility and marginality of civil works, durability (radar technology does not involve the use of moving parts), low energy consumption: these are important added values of the PAI-PL radar technology system.

A watchful 'eye' that will soon be monitoring hundreds of level crossings, intervening automatically in the event of driver distraction (the major cause of accidents) and guaranteeing safety for vehicles and trains.

Read more: PAI-PL, technology at the service of safety

PAI PL GCF for Lot 1 RFI