Enhancing safety and transparency: Sensors in rail freight transport

Supply  chains  are  the  arteries  that  keep  today’s  economies  functioning smoothly. Goods need to be moved from point A to point B  –  reliably,  inexpensively  and  fast.  With the advent of sensors  and  telematics,  we’re creating greater safety and transparency along the transport chain. Sensors are used to ensure continuous, seamless monitoring of transports and the condition of goods in transit. 

VTG  Connect  already  includes  as  standard  bot h  a  sensor  to  track  ambient temperature and a shock sensor to record in-transit events.  VTG  is  working  on  sensors  for  a  range  of  other  applications. The hardware and software solutions being designed are essentially based on real-life customer requirements,  but  a  general  desire  for  greater  safety  and  leaner  processes  in  rail  operations  and  more  efficient  maintenance  are  two  additional  factors  driving  sensor  development. 

Below you can read more about two of our sensor-related projects.

CEF Action "VTG Rail Europe status oriented and predictive maintenance"

In 2019 VTG received approval for an ambitious innovative CEF Action. With the Action "VTG Rail Europe status oriented and predictive maintenance" sponsored by INEA (Innovation and Networks Executive Agency of the European Commission)”, VTG aims to achieve the railway system compliance with the EU directives on rail operability and safety, including compliance with Telematic Application for Freight (TAF) Technical Specifications for Interoperability(TSI), as well as the TEN-T guidelines through implementation of status oriented and predictive maintenance processes for VTG Rail Europe’s rail freight wagons. Until 2023 VTG wants to equip 15,000 rail freight wagons with sensors and/or wayside monitoring on their safety-related parts, namely brake system (sensors in brake pads), the wheelset (sensors for bearing monitoring) and /or wagon overall condition (sensors for load status), representing 15% of the VTG Rail Europe’s wagon fleet, and a substantial market share of rail freight transport in Europe on all nine TEN-T Core Network corridors.


Key Benefits

  • Significantly reduced downtimes of the wagons and therefore increased availability of the fleet for sustainable rails transport
  • Simplification of rail transport management as wagons can be easier planned and forecasted for maintenance with less unplanned effects
  • Increased safety level through actively controlled repair status and monitoring of the wagons
  • Increased network capacity and decreased emissions (CO2, NOx and noise) through avoided transport to repair workshops
  • Increased competitiveness of rail as a transport mode

On our project

The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) from Brussels and the BMVI were informed in Hamburg about the status of a comprehensive innovation project of VTG. Prototypes of the sensors were presented in the port of Hamburg. They are currently being tested on boxXpress wagons and adapted for use in freight traffic.

Contact CEF Action "VTG Rail Europe status oriented and predictive maintenance"

Joachim Wirtgen
Head of Project and Association Management


Tel: +49 40 2354-2384

Josefine Obendorf
Project and Association Management


Tel: +49 40 2354-2398

Pilot Scheme eMaintenance365

Contact Pilot Scheme eMaintenance365

Thomas Dittmann
Referent Digitalisierung / Spezialist Schienenlogistik und Bahnbetrieb


Tel: +49 40 2354 2372