Vbf4.0 -Developing and evaluating measures for the automation of marshalling yards

Investigating the technical feasibility of a fully automated marshalling yard to strengthen single wagonload traffic


The Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT) has set itself the target of reducing CO2 emissions in the transport sector by 36% by 2030 compared to 2005. In order to achieve these goals, climate-friendly changes in the area of freight logistics are also necessary. At 2,347 net tonne-kilometres per inhabitant, Austrian rail freight transport is in fourth place in Europe, but single wagonload traffic is declining, resulting in a shift to road transport. Marshalling yards play an important role as hubs to strengthen single wagonload traffic. This PhD-thesis examines the technical feasibility of a fully automated marshalling yard.

Project content 

There are already efforts to partially automate applications in railway infrastructure technology, but so far holistic considerations of the use of automation in marshalling yards are missing. The goal of this project is therefore to investigate:

  • to what extent system-wide solutions are suitable for the automation of processes at marshalling yards 
  • within which framework conditions these can be applied 
  • for which applications additional developments in the field of automation are needed
  • the human-machine interface and its effects on the overall system and the operating process


In a first step the currently used technologies and processes are researched, in particular all manipulations of a freight wagon, train conveyance, displacement and track brakes. The individual processes are described and illustrated and their current level of automation tested. In a next step, products and systems available on the market are researched and their suitability to be implemented in a fully automated marshalling yards investigated. Elements that need further development are identified. 
On the basis of the process chain and existing system solutions, a strategy for achieving fully automated marshalling yards is developed. Processes that still need to be adapted are broken down into action sequences for which it is examined whether and how they can be replaced. The interaction of existing and still to be developed components is considered and an action plan drawn up detailing which further measures are necessary to achieve full automation of marshalling yards. 

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Junior Researcher Carl Ritter von Ghega Institute for Integrated Mobility Research
Department of Rail Technology and Mobility
Location: B - Campus-Platz 1
P: +43/2742/313 228 671
Gesellschaft für Forschungsförderung Niederösterreich (NFB- Science Call Dissertationen)
09/01/2019 – 08/31/2022
Involved Institutes, Groups and Centers
Carl Ritter von Ghega Institute for Integrated Mobility Research