A Year after GreenRail’s Smart Railway Sleepers

It is a year now that a major innovation transforming railway infrastructures  into renewable green energy platforms was unveiled in Italy.The first smart railway stretch of new generation was experimented with gleeful joy among rail enthusiasts.

Greenrail and Ferrovie Emilia Romagna inaugurated on September 8th,2018 the first pilot stretch constructed with new generation smart railway sleepers, which allow a sustainable infrastructural development in tune with new frontiers of big data and energy savings.The technology applied for the first time on the Italian railway infrastructure foresees the use of systems capable of transforming railway infrastructure into an active one, technologically sustainable, able to harvest and transfer data and produce renewable energy.

Sleepers designed by Greenrail and used in this stretch are: Greenrail Solar, which transforms the railway infrastructure into a photovoltaic field with a production capacity of 35 MWh / km per year; Greenrail LinkBox, which integrates systems for real-time diagnosis, predictive maintenance, security and telecommunication; Greenrail Piezo, which integrates piezoelectric systems for diagnostics. “Greenrail aims at technologically advanced innovation, linked to sustainability” – said Giovanni De Lisi, founder of Greenrail – “and the results achieved in this experimental stretch demonstrate that development and modernization of the railway infrastructure in a sustainable and innovative way is possible and will be the priority for country’s development. A sustainable mobility cannot leave aside technologically renovated railway infrastructure” – he concluded.

The results of tests conducted on the stretch have been welcomed enthusiastically by various institutions’ representatives present at the event.

“The Emilia Romagna Region, which has invested a lot in railways’ security and innovation, is proud to be the first region, which experiments with this new technology. It is a reason for pride, but also responsibility, therefore we are sure to continue investing in railway infrastructure in terms of sustainability and efficiency” – concluded the Councilor for transporting tangible and intangible infrastructures networks, territorial planning and digital agenda, Raffaele Donini. “When you have a good project with valid ideas like Greenrail, funding is not difficult to find” – he added.

“When I first spoke to Greenrail, their idea has been immediately welcomed by me and the whole technical staff of FER, both because of the project’s quality, and conviction, competences, passion that we saw in its presentation. If the role of FEW in this experimentation is to bring to life great ideas and projects of such importance for the system and whole community, I am absolutely happy and enthusiastic that this collaboration continues” – declared the CEO of Ferrovie Emilia Romagna Davide Cetti.

Representing the Politecnico di Milano and Fondazione Politecnico di Milano, whose research centres supported the R&D phase of Greenrail, was eng. Eugenio Gatti, General Director of Fondazione Politecnico di Milano.

“We congratulate Greenrail on the results just presented” – stated Gatti, adding: “The work done with them is indeed emblematic, for us at Fondazione Politecnico di Milano. It shows how it is possible today in Italy, thanks to the promotion of collaboration between research institutes and companies, developing the economic and production context, focusing on innovation, sustainability and security, three essential keys for the future growth of the country. It is not a coincidence that Greenrail was also incubated in PoliHub, our Startup District & Incubator managed by the Fondazione; it is an outcome of a common strategic decision” – he said.

Nicola Fantini, Network Coordinator, was also present representing the Enterprise Europe Network. EEN offers advice to innovative companies with a strong propensity for internationalization within the Horizon2020 SME Instrument programme. In 2016, Greenrail (SME Instrument Phase 2) received a non-repayable funding of 2.3 million € for research and development activities.

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