Energymiser: saving energy and improving timekeeping on trains

Energymiser is an in-cab system that helps train drivers stay on time and use less fuel. It is currently being used on freight trains in Australia and intercity passenger trains in the UK. It is also being trialled in India.

Our work on optimal train control started in 1982, with a project to develop a system to advise suburban railcar drivers on energy-efficient driving strategies. Analysis using Pontryagin's maximum principle showed that the most energy-efficient driving strategy for a simple rail journey has three phases: power, coast, and brake. A prototype system was trialled on suburban railcars in Adelaide, and achieved fuel savings of 15%.

From 1986 to 1993 we worked on the optimal control of long haul trains. A simple power-coast-brake strategy will not work on long journeys with steep gradients and multiple speed restrictions. However, analysis of the optimal control problem showed that an optimal strategy comprised only four driving modes: power, hold (driving at constant speed), coast, and brake. Numerical algorithms were developed to calculate the optimal driving strategy, and to develop a system that could calculate and display driving advice in a cab.

In 1998 we started working with TTG Transportation Technology to develop a commercial product. This work was later supported by the Cooperative Research Centre for Railway Engineering and Technologies. This work resulted in trials of equipment on freight trains running between Adelaide and Melbourne, and later on other parts of the network. Fuel savings of 10% were demonstrated. Trials in India have shown similar results, and trials on high-speed intercity passenger trains in the UK showed even greater savings.

Continuing research is funded by a 2011-2013 ARC Linkage Grant: Saving energy on trains---demonstration, evaluation, integration.

Current researchers: Amie AlbrechtPhil Howlett, Peter PudneyXuan VuPeng Zhou

Research grants

2011-2013, Saving energy on trains, ARC Linkage

2005-2007, Further enhancement of the Freightmiser in-cab advice system, Rail CRC 

2002-2004, Development of an in-cab advice system, Rail CRC.

1998-2000, A new generation of railway modelling tools, SPIRT

1991-1993, Scheduling and control of trains, GIRD 

1989-1990, Technology transfer and further development of a railway fuel conservation system, NERDDC

1988-1989, Energy conservation on long haul trains, NERDDC 

1986-1987, Freight locomotive fuel conservation system, NERDDC


Xuan Vu, 2006, Analysis of necessary conditions for the optimal control of a train. 
Jaixing Cheng, 1997, Analysis of optimal driving strategies for train control problems.

Key publications

D Coleman, C Stoltz, PJ Pudney, PG Howlett, X Vu & AR Albrecht, 'Using simulation to assess the benefits of energy-efficient driving strategies', Proceedings of the 9th Annual International Heavy Haul Conference, Shanghai, 2009. 

P Howlett, P Pudney & X Vu, 'Local energy minimization in optimal train control', Automatica, vol. 45, no. 11, 2009, pp. 2692-2698. 

P Pudney, C Stolz & P Campbell, 'Using energy-efficient journeys to calculate section running times', AusRAIL PLUS, 17-19 November 2009, Adelaide. 

P Howlett, P Pudney & X Vu, 'Estimating train parameters with an Unscented Kalman filter’, Proceedings of the Fifth Asia-Pacific Industrial Engineering and Management Systems Conference, Gold Coast, 12-15 December 2004, ed. E Kozan, Queensland University of Technology. 

R Yee & P Pudney, 'Saving fuel on long-haul trains: FreightMiser initial trial results’, Proceedings of CORE 2004 Conference of Railway Engineering, Darwin, 20-23 June 2004. 

J Cheng, Y Davydova, P Howlett & P Pudney, 'Optimal driving strategies for a train journey with non-zero track gradient and speed limits', IMA Journal of Mathematics Applied in Business and Industry, vol. 10, 1999, pp. 89-115. 

PG Howlett & PJ Pudney, Energy-Efficient Train Control, Advances in Industrial Control, Springer, London, 1995.

Areas of study and research

+ Click to minimise