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ERESS: The new common European standard?

Posted: 26 March 2009 | Johnny Brevik, ERESS Chairman and Eastern Regional Director for Jernbaneverket | No comments yet

Learn more about the ERESS (European Railway Energy Settlement System) and how it reduces railway energy consumption by up to 15%, strengthening both the environmental profile and competitiveness of the railways.

Learn more about the ERESS (European Railway Energy Settlement System) and how it reduces railway energy consumption by up to 15%, strengthening both the environmental profile and competitiveness of the railways.

ERESS (European Railway Energy Settlement System) reduces railway energy consumption by up to 15%, strengthening both the environmental profile and competitiveness of the railways. In this article, you can learn more about the system that could become a common European standard.

Deregulation of transport and energy sectors, driven by EU directives, EU norms, EU standards and interoperability, represents some of the challenges the railway industry has to deal with. Without the appropriate tools, infrastructure managers could not operate in a transparent and non-discriminatory way; could not exchange data between infrastructure managers while respecting the confidentiality of commercially sensitive data; could not provide relevant information to railway undertakings for a more efficient and competitive railway; and they could not maintain an eco-friendly competitive edge.

In view of this situation, setting up both the European Railway Energy Settlement System (ERESS) and a partnership structure, has proved to be an appropriate answer to the three Nordic infrastructure managers’. Norwegian National Rail Administration (Jernbaneverket), Swedish National Rail Administration (Banverket) and Danish National Railway Agency (Banedanmark), decided to work collectively to provide energy settlement systems and energy calculation systems for trains.

The idea of creating a common settlement system was first presented in 1999, but it was not until 2004 that the three Nordic infrastructure managers decided to work together on the establishment of a common software system for settlement of energy supply to trains.

In January 2007, ERESS became operational. From then on, the first bills based on the real energy consumption were produced and sent via the system to the train operators. This change initiated the sign of a new era where the use of metered data is preferred to the gross tonne kilometre. The system, as well as the partnership, is intended to be extended to other infrastructure owners. Recently, in July 2008, the Belgian Railway Infrastructure Manager (Infrabel NV) has become the fourth member of the ERESS partnership.

Aims and Visions

Aims

The main mission of the ERESS partnership is to develop, offer and supply energy settlement system and energy calculation systems for trains. Therefore, the settlement system aims at providing a simple, efficient, reliable, accurate and flexible energy settlement system on the rail market.

The ERESS partnership also strives to add-value to the rail service offer, by improving the quality of data within the railways and by offering an ease of use energy settlement system for cross-border rail transport to improve the interoperability. As a result, a secondary goal is to make train consumption data subject to commercial confidentiality accessible, both for the infrastructure owners and their customers, the train operators.

By using the system, the infrastructure owner fulfils the requirements for a neutral and non-discriminatory operation, and thereby contributes to a competitive market between train operating companies. The infrastructure owners lay down a charging principle for the use of their services: “The cost of offering a service is to be charged to the users of that service.”

On the railway undertakings’ side, energy consumption information provided by the system opens the possibility of reducing energy consumption, adopting efficient eco-driving and thereby enhances the railways strength as the most environmentally friendly mode of transport. The system also anticipates the future needs of train operators by facilitating the purchase of energy by individual train operating companies on the free market.

Visions

The main vision of ERESS is to give the railway industry a competitive edge in the transport sector. ERESS will continue to be a European leader providing energy settlement solutions for trains in an ever-changing environment. In this regard, ERESS will be proactive and adaptive to meet new needs. Continuous improvements of ERESS will be constantly carried out in order to provide a high quality and varied selection of services to user needs while fulfilling all requirements requested both at national and European level. Those adjustments will be easily executed thanks to the flexibility of the system.

The ERESS partnership shall be extended to other infrastructure owners at equal terms as the existing partners. The partnership wants the railway industry to benefit from the system in order to give the railway industry a competitive edge in the transport sector. ERESS has already attracted a high level of interest in Europe.

Elements of the system

The ERESS system comprises of Energy Metering Units (EMU), an Energy Metering System (EMS) and a settlement system.

Each traction unit is equipped with an EMU in accordance with present European standards. The EMU is an advanced energy metering unit that records energy consumption, time and position using GPS.

The EMS imports metered data coming from the EMU on board for validation and then transfers validated data to the settlement system via UTILTS format. The settlement system proceeds to the energy calculation, cost distribution and invoicing to train operators and other customers based on the validated metered data. Data exchange with other systems is also accommodated through the energy settlement system.

The core of the system is the settlement system – but nevertheless, the infrastructure managers owning ERESS decided to have a common complete system that covers the whole chain from the metering equipment on board until invoicing to the train operators.

Customers have access to their data through an internet access. This includes both raw data and settled billing data. However, the train companies can only consult their own data. Full access is given to the railway infrastructure manager.

The ERESS is a state-of-the-art settlement system for traction units in Europe and was built with the aid of the world leading experts in the fields concerned. It is the only European settlement system that meets with the EU’s liberalised energy market requirements as these are described in the “Electricity Directive” 2003/54/EC.

Huge cost savings for everyone

The ERESS is a profitable project. The net present value calculation based on a total of investments and operating costs of €12.1 million, with the assumption of 10% realistic saving based on an annual energy cost of €85 million and with a discount rate of 7%, is €110 million.

The cost savings will be realised by our customers. A concrete example is the case of the Norwegian National Railway (NSB). Installation of meters incited NSB to launch a five-year energy project in 2005. With the same level of activity, a target of 15% of electricity consumption was estimated as the energy saving potential, the equivalent of 60GWh or €3.5 million. Stationary train heating, eco-driving and heating/ventilation were identified as energy saving opportunities.
The project highlights the fact that energy consumption can vary up to 30% with the same physical train, same journey, conditions and running time (no delays), but different driver.

“Human factor plays an important part in the energy saving projects, but the effectiveness of energy management also depends on the accessibility of energy consumption,” said Jan Vetle Moen, Energy Advisor at NSB.

A basic philosophy behind the settlement system is: “You can only manage what you can control and control is worthless without measurement.” Today, NSB has already reduced its energy consumption by 60 GWh which is the initial target. The project is extended til 2012. At the end of the project, NSB expects to save 40GWh more.

What railway issues can be solved with ERESS?

By developing and implementing ERESS, infrastructure managers have the opportunity to optimise their cost and performance but also to promote the development of the rail traffic not only within their countries but also all over Europe. With this tool, infrastructure managers and train operators have been able to solve a certain number of railways issues:

  • Cross-border train traffic
  • Different grid and price areas within the same consumption area/country and where energy price is dynamic
  • Train consumption, time and position connected to the relevant market price
  • Exchanging energy consumption between infrastructure managers
  • Introduction of new services like clearing systems and a clearing office
  • Opportunities for train operators to realise data analysis for eco-driving and to conduct energy saving projects
  • Reduce the number of contact points for cross border transport companies
  • Developing an equal basis tariff and invoice rules
  • Advanced use of profiles for non-metered consumption
  • Consistent treatment of energy loss distribution and settlement
  • Deadline for reporting energy consumption to customer and market
  • Reduction of the financial risks

Partnership details

The partnership has been built on the following principle: “The partnership is open to new partners on equal terms and based on a non-profit agreement where both existing and future parties have the same rights.”

The ERESS partnership is a non-profit organisation. The signature of the cooperation agreement by the infrastructure manager members sealed their commitment to the development and establishment of a common energy settlement system.

This agreement governs the rights and obligations of the contracting parties with respect to the partnership to be carried out for the ERESS project and concerning procurement, maintenance and operation of ERESS. Therefore, the use of the system is subject to the entry of the infrastructure administrator into the partnership and consequently subject to the signature of the cooperation agreement by the concerned infrastructure manager. The partnership is a long term view given the goals pursued by the members. However, any member can withdraw from the cooperation agreement but has to respect the notice period.

What rights and obligations follow from the signature of the agreement?

The ERESS partnership holds joint ownership rights to the settlement system. Each infrastructure owner has unilateral rights to its data. Rights following from the signature of the cooperation agreement are strictly to the infrastructure manager signatory to the agreement. The parties may only dispose of their rights in ERESS through the Steering Group.
In return, in addition to the fees a prospective member has to pay off to enter the partnership, each member is obliged to prepare the ground for ease of connection of other infrastructure owners to the system.

How is the partnership organised?

The ERESS partnership has a Steering Group made up of the representatives of participating infrastructure managers and a joint administration and operational organisation.

The Steering Group is responsible for the overall strategy, the control of the budget, and has the authority to make decisions in all matters that concern the further development and operation of ERESS. When entering the ERESS Partnership, the new participant will be given a representative to the ERESS Steering Group.

In order to achieve maximum efficiency in daily operations and the ongoing work with ERESS, a joint administration and operational organisation has been established. The Management Group has allocated this task to Jernbaneverket. In cooperation with the other parties, Jernbaneverket has then established a project organisation which acts in the name of Jernbaneverket, but for the account and risk of all of the parties. The steering committee is also in charge of the follow-up of the contract with Jernbaneverket.

What does it cost to participate in ERESS?

Each new participant shall bear its own costs incurred in relation to the level of implementation and adaptation needed to accommodate its choices of functionality. Nevertheless, if the incurred costs of the specific adaptation are of interest of all members, they will be split equally between them even if it is a new functionality.

New infrastructure administrators shall also pay a ERESS partnership entrance fee which is based on the new partners’ share of the total costs that the existing partners have invested in ERESS and calculated on a non-profit basis. When further development on the ERESS system is decided in the ERESS Steering Group, the inflicted costs are paid in equal shares between the partners, and added to the partnership fee calculation of new potential partners. The entrance fee of each new partner is later forwarded in equal shares to the partners.

Operating costs shall be divided proportionately between the participants according to the number of meters each participant has in operation and connected to ERESS. Unit costs for both the train companies and the railway administrators will decrease as more partners join the system.

Is it possible to test the system for a limited period?

In addition to this cooperation agreement, the ERESS partnership set out to deploy their best practices across organisations who also want to actively take part to create more efficient and competitive railways. For that purpose, the ERESS partnership offers a ERESS test participant concept for interested parties to join for a limited time period.

This will give interested parties an opportunity to test a complete energy metering and energy settlement system at a low cost and without joining as a partner in ERESS. After the test period, the ERESS test participant can decide whether to join the ERESS partnership agreement. The ERESS test participant concept will follow the same procedures, requirements and rules as the ERESS partners have developed and used. The participant will not have any rights to the system.

The ERESS system provides a wide range of solutions for railways. The services offered by the ERESS partnership, as well as the system, are flexible and defined according to the future partner’s needs. The future partner can either go for the complete system or services ‘à la carte’.

The new common European standard?

The long-tem objective of ERESS is to become a European standard. As a starting point, the ERESS already meets the EU’s liberalised energy market requirements and the UIC leaflet “Exchange of data for cross-border railway energy settlement” that has been approved since November 2008. Given the fact that some pars of the chain between the metering equipment on board and the billing system are not covered yet by any norm and standard, important work remains to ensure the ERESS becomes a European standard.

As more partners join the system, unit costs for both the train companies and the railway administrators will decrease. We therefore hope that further countries will decide to adopt ERESS. We believe that future demands for harmonisation of the European railway and the increased focus on the environment will lead ERESS to become a common European system.

The ERESS (through its members) will consequently continue to participate actively in European and international organisations including UIC, ERA, CENELEC, EIM and eBIX in order to establish the standards, principles and solutions that are the basis of the ERESS as European standards, principles and solutions.

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