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Retrofit: Keeping rail vehicles up to date

Marcus Kampka
Marcus Kampka
Group Leader Global Project Engineering, HARTING Customised Solutions
Retrofit: Fahrzeuge auf aktuellem Stand halten

Rail vehicles rank among the so-called long-lived or even very long-lived assets. The extensive service life of rail vehicles is based on purely economic reasons. After all, a vehicle that is no longer usable after just a few years swallows up an high initial investment without yielding any returns. In order to remain state of the art for decades – and also to meet higher safety standards – the “retrofitting” of rail vehicles is coming into focus. By no means is this just a matter of replacing components that are subject to high mechanical stress during operation.

For example, it may be necessary to retrofit Passenger Information and Entertainment Systems (PIES) or to upgrade existing systems to the latest technical standards, to renew information monitors for the carriages or to set up individual displays at the seats. In the meantime, passengers expect charging facilities for laptops and smartphones, as well as access to a WiFI network. CCTV (Closed-circuit television) in individual train sections enhances the feeling of safety. In order to enable the supply, networking and safe functioning of all systems, HARTING is providing a broad portfolio of both connectors and ready-made cabling solutions. To ensure that these can then also be used individually in "plug & play" mode, HARTING product experts can take on the layout and design enabling the development of suitable retrofit solutions.

"A retrofitting does not end when a wagon is completed, but the entire train must be at the same level or standard."

Marcus Kampka, Group Leader Global Project Engineering, HARTING Customised Solutions

In addition to state-of-the-art infotainment, upgrades to safety-related systems may also be required in making rail vehicles fit for the future. The European Train Control System (ETCS) forms the foundation for a future uniform train control system on the continent and – over the long term - is intended to replace the numerous different control systems in Europe. In this context, modernisation or retrofitting, for example of Ethernet cabling, will also be necessary for this. When it comes to modernisation, it will not suffice to upgrade individual carriages. Rather, the entire train must embody the same technology level and meet the same standards throughout. This can be achieved with suitably designed wagon transition solutions, e.g. by means of so-called jumper cables, which ensure the smooth transmission of power, data and signals throughout the entire train. In addition to the individual design and manufacture of these jumper cables, HARTING is also positioned to provide other suitable solutions that will save time and money during retrofitting like distribution boxes for example.


"HARTING has already developed a variety of interfaces for retrofitting rail vehicles. These are ready solutions!"

Marcus Kampka, Group Leader Global Project Engineering, HARTING Customised Solutions

Thanks to prefabricated connection plates, which allow a high density of connectors in a very compact space, space-saving expansions are possible in a short time span. Mechanical input is reduced as far as possible, as it is not necessary to cut a separate opening through the carriage wall or the base plate for each individual connection. In view of the pre-assembly factor, the installation time on the rail vehicle itself is further reduced, while the input required for wiring and testing on the vehicle is also trimmed down. The interface can remain individual and highly flexible, as HARTING connectors – especially from the Han-Modular® portfolio – offer countless combination options. HARTING has already developed and adapted an entire range of interfaces for the retrofitting of rail vehicles, which are now available as ready-made solutions for other projects.

A mounting plate with four integrated bulkhead mounted housings for connectors of size Han® HPR 24 was specifically designed for railcar couplings. At the transition between the wagons, the interfaces – straight or angled hoods – can be plugged directly onto the pre-assembled mounting plate. Height-optimised, additional installation space is saved by recesses at the front. By opting for 8-fold Han-Modular® hinged frames, a total of up to 32 module slots are available in a very compact space.

Mounting plate
Mounting plate with four cut-outs for quick installation of connectors: Recesses in the front help to save limited installation space in the railcar coupling area.

The Han® Gigabit module meets all the demands and requirements for the transmission of high data volumes in the railway sector. The module enables Ethernet transmission of Cat. 6A or Cat. 7A, for example to make passenger information systems and broadband Internet effective and future-proof. At the same time, all the relevant requirements such as resistance to shock and vibration and EMC shielding are fully met. Thanks to its special robustness and future compatibility, this module is particularly suitable for the high demands placed on the interfaces of jumper cable connections.

The Han® Gigabit module
The Han Gigabit module enables a shock and vibration proof transmission of data on trains, especially effective when being used as part of jumper cable assemblies.

HARTING has now also developed a Han® M12 module for data transmission on trains. The module integrates two interfaces, either D- or X-coded, in one insulation body. The Han-Modular® module is thereby suitable for the transmission of signals, industrial buses or Ethernet. The packing density is doubled by comparison with existing systems. This means that there is more space available in the hinged frame for other functions. In addition to installation space, users save installation time due to the fact that the M12 module can be pre-assembled and mounted separately.

The Han® M12 module
The Han® M12 module for Profibus and Ethernet applications: x- and d-coding options can be combined in one connector.
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