At the invitation of Europe’s Rail JU, the results of the Translate4Rail (T4R, https://translate4rail.eu/) project were presented at InnoTrans Fair for Transport Technology, which took place in Berlin on 20-23 September 2022. RailNetEurope, together with UIC (Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer), both T4R consortium members, with the support of their Members RFI (Rete Ferroviaria Italiana) and ÖBB-TS, performed a live demonstration of the automatic translation tool prototype developed in the context of this project. The project, which had been funded by Shift2Rail, aimed at overcoming the language barriers for train drivers crossing borders and entering networks where they do not speak the language of the Infrastructure Manager.
The project’s results and tool functionalities were presented to European Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean, and Director General of the European Commission’s department for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) Henrik Hololei, as well as to all visitors who joined Europe’s Rail’s stand. Commissioner Adina Vălean performed a scenario where she, in the role of train driver, communicated the exceptional situation of switch damage directly from the InnoTrans fair in Berlin to the RFI national traffic control centre in Rome via the GSM-R network.
Several visitors dropping by the stand during the fair showed great interest in personally testing the T4R language tool application based on the defined scenarios. We were happy to receive very positive feedback from visitors from a variety of sectors, not only railway but also GMS-R technologies, universities, IT companies and even medicine.
LANGUAGE PROGRAMME CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS AND OUTLOOK
The Translate4Rail project was launched in December 2019. Under the coordination of UIC and RNE, the project was recently successfully concluded with a field test at the Italian – Austrian cross-border section on the Villach – Tarvisio – Pontebba railway line, involving on one side Infrastructure Managers (RFI, ÖBB-Infrastruktur, ÖBB TS) and, on the other side, the Railway Undertakings DB Cargo Italy, Lokomotion, Rail Cargo Group and Rail Traction Company.
The positive feedback received from high-level sector representatives and InnoTrans visitors validates the activities of the sector Language Programme, which focuses on the language barrier as one of the obstacles to interoperability, and is offering options to solve this issue. It also shows that the Language Tool should be further developed.
The next steps will entail further development of the communication functionalities between IM and RU staff and further enhance IM – IM communication at regional level. Currently being discussed together with UIC: to analyse possibilities for employing the tool in the communication between locomotive staff of Railway Undertakings. In parallel, RNE continues in the development of a tool providing centralised direct translation in the GSM-R network.
*Photos kindly provided by Europe’s Rail,Photographer: AnnePreussel.