Case Study: Speed train GPS/Glonass navigation system based on Fastwel electronics

In this case study consideration is given to high-accuracy locomotive location detection systems with the help of GLONASS/GPS. The system can be used both in mainline railroad transport and industrial railroad transport enterprises that have their own fleets of locomotives and track infrastructure.


System and application purposes

  • High technology hardware and software system designed for prompt real-time provision of railway transport traffic control systems, as well as other railway automatic control and geographic information systems with data on the location, speed, and direction of locomotive traffic using GLONASS/GPS for railway traffic safety
  • Automatic detection of location, direction, and speed of locomotive traffic in real-time mode using digital map, which specifies layout of railroad stations and haul tracks
  • Locomotive traffic control on low-density lines and stations, not equipped with signaling arrangements
  • Reduction of expenses related to maintenance and operation of railway vehicles due to the improvement of locomotive efficiency, reduction of empty locomotive runs, and fuel consumption control
  • Automation and improvement of traffic control quality processes and reduction of human factors
  • Lowering cost of shunting work at stations.

System functions

System functionalities in conjunction with capabilities of the other related systems enable fully automated control of train service and shunting work performed for rail vehicles, as well as provide an automated remote control of fuel consumption and locomotive operation parameters. Key functions that can be carried out by the system, combined with the above mentioned fuel consumption and station operation control systems, are described as follows:

  • High-accuracy detection of location, direction, and speed of locomotives in real-time, and display of current location on digital map of track layout on operator’s screen
  • Reproduction of locomotive traffic pattern track over the required period of time, up to 3 years
  • Display and record events to data storage (from start and end of downtime, time of departure and return time to depot, time spent on the tracks of counterparties, power unit on/off time, time and location of railway vehicle departures from and returns to the tracks, and so on)
  • Automatic generation of reports on operation of locomotives and crews, including those related to the working time of locomotive’s power unit, fuel consumption, downtime in working and non-working condition, distance travelled from the time of last repairs or maintenance, time spent on the tracks of counterparties, compliance with the prescribed speed limit, accomplished traffic schedule tasks, switching locomotive to non-working condition and back, detach (attach) locomotives from trains, change of crews, and so on
  • Automation of key operations within trains, including registration of train arrival to stations, preparation of documents for newly arrived and marshaled trains, control collection of rail cars in a railway yard and calculation for marshaling rail cars into a train in accordance with standards, control operations for changing rail cars with approaching lines of counteragents, control of rail car location on approaching lines of an enterprise, and the like

Basic structure and functions of system components

The system includes two main parts: onboard equipment installed directly into locomotives, as well as tower equipment.

The onboard equipment unit is based of the QNX Neutrino Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) and Fastwel CPC308 processor module in a PC/104 form factor. The choice of Fastwel СРС308 as a computing kernel is due to its optimal performance/price ratio, extended operating temperature range, conformal coating, shock and vibration resistance, and well as support for the Neutrino IS. The module can also be configured with passive cooling, RS-232 and RS-485 interfaces, as well as a connector for CompactFlash cards.

The processor module is the core of the onboard equipment unit, which also includes:

  • Fastwel PS351 power supply module;
  • Fastwel NIM351 interface module;
  • Fastwel CNM350 communication and navigation module.



The tower equipment of the system includes the following components:

  • QNX-based system server
  • Dispatch clerk PC
  • Equipment units of remote stations


The system operates as follows:

  • The onboard equipment gathers data from parameter control sensors installed in a locomotive, performs initial data processing, generates data packages, and transfers them via GSM wireless channel to the QNX system server
  • The QNX server receives information from locomotives with onboard equipment units and information from the equipment units of remote stations
  • The QNX server performs real-time processing of data obtained from the onboard equipment and remote station equipment units; detects location, direction, and speed of locomotive traffic; records coordinates, time; and service information, as well as information on locomotive operation parameters to the database and transfers such information to the operator’s PC and related systems.
  • Via an Ethernet channel that makes using existing communications lines possible, the operator’s PC obtains information on the location, direction and speed of locomotive traffic, as well as information on events such as start of motion, failure to stay within prescribed boundaries, entry to and departure from the territory of counterparts, and so on from the server database in accordance with the operator’s desire, and displays it on a digital map or track layout of the facility.

The operator’s PC software enables the pathway of the selected locomotive be reproduced, generated, displayed, and printed out for various reports on a facility’s operation as mentioned above. Reports on a locomotive’s travelled distance and stops – displayed on the operator’s PC – is demonstrated in the picture above; a report on the locomotive’s stay at adjacent loco depots, which is prepared for printing, is pictured below.

Provision of the required accuracy and promptness of data submission and processing and calculation of location simultaneously for several locomotives should be made in real-time mode, and requiring that the server run the QNX RTOS. Using QNX Neutrino enables a high level of reliability in system operation. A previously determined cyclogram allows task priority levels and their method of planning to be carried out with multithreaded data processing, which combined with the CPC308’s multicore architecture provides the required system performance.


There is a truly huge potential for system development to solve various tasks in railway transport. Information obtained through the system can be used for:

  • Designing systems of automatic reporting on trains approach to railway crossings
  • Designing systems that automatically bind locations where defects in track bed structural elements, and subgrade and overhead contact systems have been found by means of non-destructive testing
  • Designing systems of track automation using track machines and equipment
  • Designing automated systems of accounting and control for the fulfillment of planned locomotive repairs and maintenance schedules

The above-mentioned systems at mainline and industrial railway transport enterprises enable:

  • Considerably reduced manual work related to entering and processing information
  • Improved promptness and quality of locomotive motion control
  • Reduced operation costs for locomotive fleets
  • Increased efficiency of locomotives and rail cars
  • Sufficiently reduced failures made by people during the motion control process
  • Improved railway traffic safety by means of the more accurate location detection, as compared to signaling arrangements currently used in railway transport.


[1]             Fastwel