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Expleo, the trusted partner to rail operators

Operators: meet the challenges of the railway with Expleo

The railway sector is complex, dynamic and at the center of attention and innovation to meet societal and environmental challenges. The sector is being modernised to respond to growth in mobility, with numerous innovations and changes in rolling stock, signalling infrastructure and the digitalisation of services. Trains have become a symbol of tomorrow’s mobility, but operators must meet the challenges they face. Expleo supports all rail operators in meeting these challenges, with its in-depth knowledge of the field and its expertise in R&D and digital transformation.  

This blog identifies the challenges facing rail operators and how Expleo is helping them to meet these challenges. This will give you a clearer picture of the current ecosystem and help you identify avenues for development.

Did you know?

Expleo is investing in rail innovation projects, such as the intelligent hybrid railway, with a view to reinventing the customer experience, the development of the autonomous vehicle, and training programmes to best meet customer and market expectations.


have been trained by Expleo
in the railway sector

Training icon

Rolling stock issues

Railway rolling stock consists of all vehicles, powered or towed, that are designed to move on a railway track. For the operators, the number of parameters to be considered in their practices is extensive. 

Did you know?

According to the Etablissement Public de Sécurité Ferroviaire – Public Establishment for Railway Safety’s (EPSF) 2021 business review, there are over 98,000 vehicles authorised to travel on the country’s rail networks in France. 


allowed on the country’s rail networks 

Train icon

The main challenges faced by rolling stock for operators

1. Environmental issues

Whilst Rail is the least polluting mode of transport, rail operators must never lose sight of the environmental aspect of rolling stock, whether that be its carbon footprint, noise pollution or visual nuisance caused to neighbours by passing trains, everything must be done to reduce its impact. Pressed by the climate emergency, developments in hydrogen trains around the world are currently at the forefront of these environmental considerations.

Rail is the least polluting mode of transport

Particle emissions

by mode of transport in France

legend particle emissions

Nitrogen oxide emissions

by mode of transport in France

legend nitrogen oxide emissions

Source: CITEPA / format SECTEN

Thanks to its successes in the field of hydrogen within the automotive, aeronautical, and naval sectors, Expleo is involved in this major new energy transition in the railway sector, from mechanical design to systems integration, right through to the testing and commissioning phases. The same goes for its commitment to autonomous trains, which, on account of their intrinsic capacity to respond more easily to mass mobility or to develop more sustained green driving solutions, also constitute a major area of innovation for rolling stock, in which Expleo is already applying its full expertise. And there are still many challenges to be overcome.

Did you know?

On average, rail uses energy three times more efficiently than road transport. 

0 %
more energy efficient
energy icon

2. Service quality issues

Beyond the environmental aspect, many other challenges must be considered by rolling stock operators, from passenger comfort to operational safety, as well as the optimisation of train frequencies and maintenance. In fleet monitoring or driver assistance, Expleo is there to provide operators with optimal support, thanks to its high level of ability in systems engineering, including RAMS activities, as well as its expertise across the entire data science value chain (from AI sensors to cloud environments).  

Rolling stock: a complex and highly technical product

are required to build a high-speed train

Source: Expleo

train parts

Like the Train Control Management System (TCMS) – the central computer on board a train that connects, controls and monitors all the sub-systems – Expleo also has all the assets required to help operators establish and maintain better connections in the management of their rolling stock. 

World ranking of countries according to the quality index of their railway network in 2019
Network Quality Index Japan
Network Quality Index Hong Kong
Network Quality Index Switzerland
Network Quality Index South Korea
Network Quality Index Singapore
Network Quality Index Netherlands
Network Quality Index Finland
Network Quality Index Austria


Examples of services provided by Expleo for operators in rolling stock

1. Data science to facilitate maintenance

Maintenance represents an enormous cost factor within the rail sector due to the regularity of action required, the number of technicians needed, and the space taken up by equipment in depots, etc. Therefore, an ability to anticipate developments is important. One of the world’s leading rail transport operators called upon Expleo to improve its fleet monitoring and increase the availability of its trains. This customer was experiencing ‘false positives’ with unnecessary maintenance operations, leading to the immobilisation of rolling stock and the associated personnel, which was not required. Thanks to the implementation of new approaches to Data Science, Expleo reduced the customer’s false positive rate by 50% and improved the optimisation of maintenance operations for the client. 

0 %

of the false positive rate

2. Invaluable technical support for Porterbrook Leasing, one of the three largest owners of rolling stock in the UK

Likewise in the field of fleet monitoring, Expleo has been developing a solution to increase performance during the dry run period for Porter Brook Leasing. For this type of company, such data can quickly become critical, as its business model is based on the life of its assets and on rolling stock fleets that are as reliable as possible once in service. To ensure optimal maintenance of the vehicles and to better guarantee proper maintenance of the railway operators on them, Expleo has become this client’s eyes and ears. 

3. Prototyping a Camera-based and Deep Learning-based metro driving assistance system for a public transport operator

Highly involved in the field of driver assistance, Expleo spent eight months developing a prototype of an intelligent on-board camera for one of the world’s major metro operators, aimed at improving the cabin rendering of lateral traffic lights. In the dark and complex environment of underground tunnels, increasing the level of automation in the conversion of old metro lines, was not simple. With its prototype of an on-board camera capable of better analysing possible malfunctions in the rendering of side signals, Expleo was able to provide its customer with a result reliability of around 99.5% and, in so doing, opened up new avenues for the enhanced automation of its trains.  


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result reliability rate

Infrastructure and signalling issues

Signalling systems are fundamental to safe and efficient operations, in directing traffic and prevent collisions. The purpose of a signalling system is to determine the position of trains on the network, to control their direction, and to signal to the driver when it is safe to progress to the next section of a track. The deployment of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) aims to harmonise rail signalling in Europe and overcome the signalling challenges facing operators. 

Did you know?

Between Paris-Cologne-Amsterdam, the Thalys had to be equipped with no fewer than seven different on-board systems to meet all the current signalling standards.


different on-board systems

Infrastructure and signalling challenges for operators

Deployment of the ERTMS, a major challenge for the rail sector
ertms capacity
ertms regularity
ertms power consumption

1. Facing the challenges of traffic growth with Expleo

The switch to ERTMS allows for an increase in frequency, and an increase in capacity of up to 40%. Its deployment also responds to the need to make the service more efficient by improving regularity by almost 15%. 

2. Facing the challenge of energy rationalisation with Expleo

In a world where energy efficiency is an urgent requirement, ERTMS can reduce power consumption by up to 37%. This technology will facilitate intra-European travel and therefor offer virtuous long-distance transport solutions. 

Did you know?

By 2030, the level of high-speed rail travel will have doubled, and automated mobility will be widespread. By 2050, the level of high-speed rail travel will have tripled and rail freight transport will have doubled. 

0 %
high-speed rail travel

by 2050

high speed icon

3. Facing the challenge of interoperability and standardisation with Expleo

Given the wide variety of signalling systems in each country, making an international journey within the EU remains difficult and costly for an operator, due to driver training, use of driver and maintenance. The deployment of ERTMS should make it possible to replace the large number of different systems in the long term, by using the same architecture on the ground and for rolling stock. 

Examples of services provided by Expleo for operators in infrastructure and signalling

1. Expleo as a trusted partner to a major railway operator (France)

Expleo is very active in this highly field of ERTMS, as well as in other areas of signalling. Expleo is currently working for one of the world’s largest rail operators on its strategy to modernise its extensive track network. To respond to an increase in network capacity, Expleo has developed a new tool for studying the risks of switches, which allows the client to better manage traffic incidents while maintaining the required level of safety. 

Safety of modes of transport in Europe
Number of fatalities per one billion passenger kilometres
Aeroplane fatalities
Train fatalities
Bus fatalities
ferry fatalities
car fatalities
motorcycle fatalities

Source: European Union Agency for Railways

2. The implementation of ERTMS

As part of an upgrade to an existing infrastructure for the first high-speed line in Africa, Expleo also assisted a major rail operator in meeting all the required conditions. From supervising the installation of the equipment to testing and commissioning activities and managing maintenance, Expleo deployed a wide range of engineering and technical expertise on this project, in a working environment that is several hundred kilometres long with demanding logistical conditions. 

3. A signalling training programme guaranteeing a high level of expertise for our clients

Expleo has initiated a signalling training programme (principles and knowledge of signalling systems, software development, verification and validation, and safety of critical software, covering the latest signalling technology) with a view to meeting the expectations of its customers, at a time when the signalling market is set to grow significantly worldwide.  

Expleo, a player who invests in training

in the railway sector trained by Expleo. Of which 97 took part in the signalling training element alone.

Digitalisation issues

Driven by the acceleration of technological progress, digitalisation is a formidable catalyst for innovation with a view to developing new services, improving operational efficiency, or transcending the passenger experience. If rail is to become the preferred mode of transport, digitalisation is the key area to which operators must invest in. Whether it is to improve passenger comfort, to keep up to date with equipment safety, or perhaps to offer innovative levers for energy consumption or predictive maintenance, the entire rail sector is now developing sensors and applications to meet its growing level of interconnectivity. 

The challenges of digitalisation for operators

1. The challenges of the digital transformation

Allowing public transport users to plan, book and pay for an inter-modal journey on a single digital platform – known as Mobility as a Service (MaaS), represents another major challenge in the digitalisation of rail transport. Through its cutting-edge expertise in digital transformation (in the development of new systems, customer support, quality assurance, etc.), Expleo can also help railway operators to better meet this public expectation. 

2. The challenges of cybersecurity

This increased digitalisation of the rail sector imposes cybersecurity responsibilities on operators. Because the attack surface is widening, with more diversified risks, and because the degree of integration between IT and IoT elements is becoming greater within an increasingly complex distributed architecture, operators now have no choice but to increase their internal skills. As a specialist in risk management for all railway infrastructures, with interventions already realised with more than 10 clients in around 20 different countries, Expleo can assist operators in this task by training them and defining the best strategy. To be fully effective, cybersecurity must already be integrated by design at the start of each project, in compliance with current regulatory requirements, and always demonstrating concern for the joint work carried out between IT experts and cyber engineers. 


billion European train passengers

will have access to on-board Wi-Fi annualy from 2028. It will reach almost five times its current level of use. 

Wifi icon

Source: Research BWCS 2019



were affected when the Danish rail operator’s (DSB) ticketing system was crippled by a DDoS attack in 2018

Examples of services provided by Expleo for operators in Digitalisation

1. Expleo's contributions: Agile testing for an agile transport card

In recent years, Expleo has been working in this area for a major transport and travel company. Using a single card equipped with two RFID electronic chips, the objective was to offer the company’s users the maximum number of services throughout their mobility chain, developing a multi-operator, contactless medium bringing together transport ‘tickets and partner services such as carpooling, bicycle rental, ski passes, etc. Developed over a period of more than five years, the project was ambitious in its hybrid global approach, based on various development and organisation models. Expleo remained present at every stage with a team of testers who were very agile in terms of rendering frequencies and quality analyses, they were able to respond to this challenge with a multimodal transportation pass that now fully meets the client’s specifications. 

Rail ticket sales in France in 2021
ticket sales legend

2. Digitalisation to facilitate training

Digitalisation is a definite asset in driver training, from design to commissioning, and now maintenance management, Expleo has developed metro driving simulation software for a German inter-city transport operator. As part of the deployment of a new fleet of trains, the objective was to train drivers in advance to better manage all technical failure scenarios (electrical breakdowns, problems opening or closing doors, etc.), and therefore minimise the impact on train passage frequencies. Using the client’s existing training modules, Expleo was able to combine real equipment and virtual systems to achieve a high level of realism in the situations presented. Another fine example of how digitalisation is leading the way for the future of railway. 

Are you a rail operator looking to obtain the highest level of support for your projects?

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