Ricardo Rail IT And Data Diagnostics Diagnose Reliability Rolling Stock

Increase reliability of Rolling Stock with diagnostics system

The Dutch train operator NS aimed to increase the reliability of diagnostic systems for its newly obtained rolling stock, the Sprinter Next Generation (SNG). Trainsets in passenger service usually generate a significant amount of diagnostic alarms across all different subsystems, with many of them being untruthful. But truthful on-board diagnostics support drivers in minimizing the impact of failures on the timetable and also help mechanics identify and solve the root cause of failures. A truthful diagnosis system is the basis for efficient operational and maintenance processes.

Upon recommendation of Ricardo, NS added requirements about the validity of the diagnosis system to the specification of new rolling stock. These requirements ensure that a thorough process for validating the truthfulness of diagnostic alarms is performed during the warranty phase in collaboration with the supplier. The goal of this investigation is to determine the root-cause of the issue and formulate an adequate solution which minimizes the occurrence of untruthful diagnostic alarms. Solutions can range from technical modifications or additional instructions for driving or maintenance personnel. 

Delays in passenger service are reduced as a result of a highly reliable diagnostic system that automatically detects system failures. Reliable diagnostics allows the driving personnel to perform adequate mitigating measures. Also, there is a higher availability of SNG trainsets, because more effective maintenance can be scheduled as the root-cause of a failure is known before the trainset reaches the workshop. This allows planners to have the right mechanics, materials and work-orders available when the trainset comes to the workshop for maintenance.

Key Outcomes
•    Reduction in passenger service delays through reliable diagnostics;
•    Minimization of operational disturbances caused by untruthful alarms;
•    Higher availability of SNG trainsets through effective maintenance;
•    Higher efficiency of maintenance processes as less time is spent finding root-causes of defects.


The methodology and insights gained in this project are scalable and can be used to optimize diagnostic systems in various operational contexts. Continuing to utilize this methodology, Ricardo is ready for future challenges and collaborate on the evolution of diagnostics in rolling stock.


Dutch Railways NS

Key Services

Rail IT and Data diagnose

Start date




Ricardo Personnel Involved

Maarten Zanen, Sander van Santvoort



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