Image caption

Aerothermodynamics for testing train brakes

Automatic testting of hydraulic brakes on trains making our journeys safer

In 2019, 298 significant railways accident were reported in Germany which represent 20% of European railway accidents. The ESA-supported project Aerothermodynamics for testing train brakes uses spacecraft technology to verify the correct functioning of the breaks to improve trains safety.

Source: Eurostat

Good train brakes are crucial for safe rail journeys. In Germany, they are now checked daily using advanced technology that helps spacecraft return safely to Earth. Railway personnel at Deutsche Bundesbahn simply connect the new automatic tester to the hydraulic brake clutches and select the train type. The computer does the rest via a special sensor – a spin-off from spacecraft reentry research – to verify quickly if the brakes are OK or if they are leaking air. The device draws on the special technique developed to determine the best trajectory for a spacecraft to enter Earth’s atmosphere. The result is more reliable testing which in the end guarantees safer train journeys.

Safer trains from space aerodynamics
Technology Transfer
Priel Manes; Cornelis Eldering