Research and development

R&D activities in the first half of 2009 achieved good results, meeting expectations and reaching the technical and commercial goals set. These expectations stemmed from increasingly coordinated and structured management and implementation R&D activities at global level carried out by the various companies of the Ansaldo STS Group and special attention paid to system solutions and product innovation even in segments other than the one that was considered traditional until now.
In the Light Rail Tramway (LRT) segment, earlier in June 2009 at the UITP exhibition Ansaldo STS unveiled its product named Tramwave, a new ground-level power supply system that feeds electrical current to tramlines safely and efficiently without using catenaries or batteries and without creating traffic barriers.
With Tramwave, power is provided through a contact line that activates a small section of the line only as the tram passes over it.
Although it was originally conceived to be assembled on the Sirio trams manufactured by AnsaldoBreda, Tramwave is so flexible that it can be integrated in any make or model of tram, regardless of the supplier, even on currently existing fleets. This facilitates a smooth and seamless replacement of catenaries in historical locations.
Tramwave was conceived, designed and developed to:

  • completely eliminate the visual impact created by traditional overhead lines;
  • enable easy insertion of the power line between the rail tracks of a new or existing tram line, positioned at the same level as the rail head;
  • avoid obstacles for pedestrians and road vehicles crossing the rails;
  • ensure safety and operability under all working conditions;
  • dispense with on-board power storage systems for vehicle control;
  • use traction return current independent of the rails avoiding stray current;
  • be usable and configurable for various vehicle types and vehicle construction solutions.

In the Metro segment, internal R&D activities in Ansaldo STS are completing the union of CBTC (Communication-Based Train Control) based system solutions - where wayside-train communication is achieved through modern and safe radio connections - with the driverless technology, which is now well consolidated within the Group in several applications, including the Copenhagen Metro. In particular, this new and extremely modern transport system will be applied for the first time in Taipei. The project, awarded to Ansaldo STS at the start of March 2009 for an amount of more than EUR 214 million, covers the first stage of the Taipei Metro Circular Line and envisages a turnkey CBTC Driverless integrated system for the construction of the electromechanical works and the supply of the rolling stock for a 15.5 km-long line, with 14 stations (13 in viaduct and one underground), 17 vehicles and one depot. The complete project for the Circular Line has a total length of 52 kms, with 46 stations and 3 depots to be constructed in two other stages for the remaining 36 kms.
In the Innovation segment, the development of a "Multifunction Portal" project for the dimensional and thermal monitoring of trains will be completed within July 2009 with the testing and start of pre-operations. The project aims at preventing trains with over-limit loading gauge or with fires starting onboard from entering tunnels.
The project was made in cooperation with Elsag Datamat and uses state-of-the-art technologies to determine the rail loading gauge up to 300 km/h (scanner-laser devices), hot spots (fast infrared) and detection of visible anomalies (linear cameras).

At 30 June 2009, Research & Development spending stood at EUR 19,799 thousand, compared with EUR 21,765 thousand at 30 June 2008, a decrease of about 9.03%.
The activities undertaken by the Signalling Business Unit, totalling EUR 18,736 thousand or 95% of total spending, related to the following companies (figures in EUR):

  • Ansaldo STS : 6,416
  • Ansaldo STS France : 9,339
  • Ansaldo STS USA : 1,811
  • other      :  1,170

Spending by the Transportation Solutions amounted to EUR 1,063 thousand, a decrease of EUR 111 thousand over 30 June 2008.

Research & Development spending at 30 June 2009-2008 by Business Unit (EUR thousands)

Research & Development spending at 30 June  2009-2008