Railway demonstrator: Over-the-air updates and monitoring on signalling systems

Railway demonstrator: Over-the-air updates and monitoring on signalling systems

The railway use-case provides evidence and demonstration on how over-the-air software updates (OTASU) would be implemented for CAF’s mixed-criticality and distributed control systems for railway signalling.

One of the key challenges in implementing OTASU for railway signalling systems is ensuring the integrity, security and reliability of the update process, as well as the capability to simultaneously update several devices placed at different locations. If an update were to fail, it could potentially lead to serious consequences, such as train accidents or delays.

To address this challenge, the UP2DATE project focused on developing a robust update process that includes multiple layers of security and error detection. The process includes checks to verify the integrity of the update package before it is installed, as well as safeguards to ensure that the update does not disrupt the operation of the signalling system. During the update process, a secure session is established and communication between the components is maintained to ensure the correct distribution of the software package. Once the update has taken place, a monitoring process is executed to verify that the new software version is working as expected and to monitor the health and performance of the signalling system. During the online monitoring process, it is possible to issue a rollback action, that would revert the software to the latest functional version in case the new one fails. The offline monitoring process ensures everything is working as expected in the long term. The following video shows these main processes applied to the railway demonstrator:


The railway use-case has successfully demonstrated that OTASU can be applied to railway signalling systems in a safe and secure manner and has laid the foundation for the wider adoption of this technology in the railway industry. More particularly,  the UP2DATE project has demonstrated the potential of OTASU to improve the efficiency and reliability of railway signalling systems. Obtained results expose that one of the main benefits brought by UP2DATE is the update time reduction in more than 80% with respect to current railway practice, due to the fact that it is no longer necessary to regularly commute to the different locations at which the end-devices are located. This is of big convenience during the maintenance phases, where the railroad traffic has to be stopped until maintenance activities are finished. By reducing the updating time and, more particularly, the system downtime caused by update operations in more than 92%, the maintenance activities can be optimized and service interruptions reduced. Finally, the CPU load of UP2DATE middleware services has been proven to be below 24%, which is within the defined boundaries for the railway domain.

As the technology continues to evolve and mature, it is likely that we will see even more widespread adoption of OTASU and monitoring solutions in the railway industry in the near future, which will certainly take benefit of the advances done in UP2DATE.