How heavy are the load vehicles during the event?
Each load vehicle has a nominal mass of 200kg. For 2024, two load vehicles will be used. The mass excludes persons onboard. For the challenge runs, there will be a minimum of a driver (either on the load vehicle or from 2024 potentially in the locomotive), a judge and a guard onboard. Teams may opt to have additional members onboard if they choose.
How soon after the submission of the optional challenge preference order will the teams know if there preference has been chosen?
We will advise as soon as we can. Entry closes 20th November and teams must notify us of their optional challenge preferences within one month of entering. We will therefore hope to advise of teams’ optional challenges by Christmas at the latest. However, in line with Rule B2.2, as soon as two or more teams have a preferred option confirmed, we will be able to notify those teams.
For the new location announcement challenge, are teams allowed to place physical markers beside the track to be detected by the locomotive and initiate an announcement?
There is nothing in the Rules or Technical Specification prohibiting the use of lineside markers for this challenge. However, teams should note that announcements when coming to a stand will not necessarily coincide with any specific position.
Due to the removal of refuelling challenge, are teams still restricted to a maximum of 25 kg for the energy storage asset?
The refuelling challenge has been removed, but all requirements relating to refuelling remain in the Technical Specification.
Notification of the optional challenges
Concerning notification of the optional challenges, teams were required to register by 20th November. As per Rule A21, teams are required to submit their optional challenge preference order within one month of entry being confirmed. As per Rule B2.2, the organisers will confirm the teams highest preference with at least one other team competing. We will seek to notify teams of this at the earliest opportunity, prospectively by early December and hopefully before Christmas at the latest. Teams will be required to compete in their preferred challenge as notified. Once all teams’ options are confirmed, we will then publish these – this will indicate which of the optional challenges are available for competition in 2024. As also per Rule B2.2, teams may then also compete in the other optional challenges where other teams are also confirmed as competing (as the organisers publish). Due to the scoring of these optional challenges, it will be in the interests of each team to compete to the best of their ability in each optional challenge they compete in, in order to maximise their score relative to that of their fellow teams. For any optional challenge which no other team selects, it will be possible to compete in these also, but no score will be recorded.
Ride comfort challenge - Is there a penalty for taking longer than the allotted 6 minutes to complete the challenge? If so, how is this factored in to the score? Could you post the times it took the teams to go around the course?
Regarding the ride comfort time, if the team takes longer than 6 minutes to complete the run then the attempt is invalid. In such instances, if it was possible to acceptably fit the accelerometer, the team will only get the 1/3 of the marks allocated for attempting the challenge. As Rule C2.6 states, this is achievable with an average speed of 10 km/h but teams are advised to validate this in their test runs and not to rely solely on this as a means to ensuring they are within the permitted 6 minutes. In 2023, teams took between 5m06s and 6m00s for compliant teams. Note, however, that this is times from the meter which are likely to be a few seconds longer than the actual run. The riding judge will use a stopwatch to determine the run is within 6 minutes but we do not have a record of these times.
Ride comfort challenge - What make and model of accelerometer and data logger is used during the competition?
For the Ride Comfort Challenge, the Railway Challenge has until now used a Larsson Davis HVM100 vibration meter together with a Larsson Davis SEN027 triaxial accelerometer (removed from the seatpad it is supplied with). However, the organisers reserve the right to use alternative equipment for future events. All meter and accelerometer setups capable of measurements using the MCSM method in accordance with EN 12299:2009, as defined in rule C2.8 will be acceptable.
"The option for teams to compete with ride-on locomotives for the driver, provided they complete an acceptable hazard analysis"
As this is to become mandatory for the 2025 competition and we are competing in the design competition, we are obviously hoping to design for the 2025 competition as far as possible so this would be a key design consideration. However, I can’t find any references to this in the technical specifications or rules so was wondering if there are any specific requirements regarding this or whether it is just a case, like with other challenges and parts of the competition (e.g., unloading the locomotive), of ensuring appropriate risk analysis and mitigation are in place?
If the locomotive can be ride-on, can it also be controlled with an integrated control panel as opposed to a remote.
It is correct that there are no further details of the ride-on driver requirements in the Technical Specification for 2024. The organisers will include some such requirements in due course, either in the Technical Specification or in a supplementary document given the ability for the driver to be onboard the locomotive is optional for the 2024 competition. Such requirements will be as follows, which are provided in response to this query but will take a similar form in the Technical Specification or in a supplementary document:
Operation of the locomotive may alternatively be by a driver onboard the locomotive for the 2024 competition (noting that it is proposed to become a mandatory requirement for the 2025 competition). For a driver onboard, teams are required to:
• Complete a risk assessment for the provision of a locomotive design for an onboard driver considering the additional risks to the driver and/or locomotive operation that this introduces. The following risks, as a minimum should be considered, with the design demonstrating that identified risks are reduced to an acceptable level:
• Ride and risk of derailment with a driver onboard the locomotive (thereby affecting the wheel loading)
• Risks of injury to the driver including heat, electric shock, moving parts, and the potential for fire/explosion
• Ensuring suitable containment for the driver, but also providing a means for rapid evacuation as required.
• Onboard driver provision shall be for 5th percentile female to 95th percentile male. With reference to Technical Specification 4.3, it is not required for onboard drivers to be within the dynamic loading gauge. However, it should be demonstrated that a 95th percentile male can comfortably position themselves, whilst sat in the locomotive, such that the top of their head is below 1500mm above rail level.
• To enable bi-directional operation of the locomotive with an onboard driver, consideration should be given to the ability for the driver to control and operate the locomotive in both directions, including enabling them to have visibility in both directions. Note it is not specifically required for the driver to be able to be seated facing directly in both directions, provided the aforementioned is considered.
• With reference to Technical Specification clause 2.2, the requirement for remote operation as per this clause will remain, permitting the locomotive to be operated also either from the trailing load or, for slow speed movements, with the driver waling alongside the locomotive with the controls handheld. Rather than duplicating controls integrated into the locomotive, it is recommended that teams instead provide for the remote control device(s) to be mounted in the locomotive to provide for onboard operation.
• With reference to Technical Specification clause 4.4, the total mass stated is for the locomotive excluding the mass of the onboard driver.
• With reference to Technical Specification clause 4.9, for teams selecting the Aerodynamic option, air resistance shall be determined with no onboard driver.
• With reference to Technical Specification clause 5.4 6th bullet, provision of a second emergency stop on a flying lead accessible to the riding judge situated in the load vehicle coupled to the locomotive is also required.
• With reference to Technical Specification clause 5.7.1, indications should be visible to both the onboard driver and the riding judge situated in the load vehicle coupled to the locomotive.
For teams providing a design with provision for an onboard driver in 2024, if accepted in line with the above requirements, and accompanied by a suitable and sufficient risk assessment demonstrating to the satisfaction of the judges that risks for onboard drivers are acceptably mitigated the locomotive design will also be provisionally accepted in 2025, contingent on successful operation of such locomotives in 2024. The organisers reserve the right to amend or add to the requirements in the event that this is deemed necessary for a safe and fair competition. For entry level teams in 2024, similar will apply if they propose a design for an onboard driver in 2024 compliant with the above along with an acceptable risk assessment.
Auto-stop - In clause 5.5 of the tech spec it states no tractive effort will be applied in this mode
Does this mean that the loco should effectively coast upon passing the marker with no power whatsoever applied to the traction motors or can the loco maintain a speed (not accelerating)?
Regarding the Auto-Stop Challenge, ‘no tractive effort’ as referred to in Technical Specification clause 5.5 means that no positive tractive effort may be applied. Therefore, the locomotive must only coast or be retarded by the brakes: it cannot be driven forward (even at a constant speed) but must be controlled only through braking. Teams are expected to acceptably demonstrate this through their design report and, as required, in scrutineering also.
Specification 5.9 states that announcements are for “all occupants of trailing vehicles”.
Does this mean that announcements need to be heard/seen in the very rear carriage (where the guard is seated)? If this is the case, are we permitted to supply and use additional remote hardware which is not physically attached to the locomotive?
The Technical Specification, by design, does not rule out the use of additional hardware. As a minimum, the announcements should be capable of being heard/seen by the first two occupants seated in the trailing vehicle which will include the riding judge.
In Specification 5.10 (Remote Data Recording challenge), one of the requested data points is location.
Is there a required level of precision for this data? i.e. does ‘train has passed point X’ satisfy this requirement, or does the challenge require a pinpoint on a map?
The Technical Specification, by design, does not specify accuracy. It can be assumed that better accuracy will be viewed favourably by the judges. Teams should therefore consider the ease of immediate interpretation of the locomotive location accuracy relative to the track infrastructure by the judges in their presentation of location information.
Specification 6.2.2 states "The design of the auto-coupler will tolerate a height above rail head of the connecting vehicle’s coupler from the specified height
(Clause 6.2.1 refers), -2” / +3”. Height adjustment may be via any means other than manual handling of the coupler itself".
The team would like to seek confirmation that the amount of required adjustment is 5 inches (rather than 5 cm), as this will be a large variability for our small locomotive and coupler system.
The committee is planning to measure the height of a coupler with increased accuracy (smaller tolerance range) at the site visit on 7th February. If successful we will provide these details to teams and upload to the Challenge website.
Is it possible for a more specific height coupling bracket on the trailing vehicle above the track level, it is currently a 50% tolerance on the 10" height above the railhead?
- Is the possible height continuously variable or is it set based on the trailing vehicle type used, in which case is it possible to be given these heights?
- What is the interface between our Auto-Coupler apparatus and the trailing vehicle?
- Are there technical drawings of the U- / Box- coupling bracket fitted to the trailing vehicles?
Can we be provided with technical drawings / engineering diagrams for the above queries?
We also have a query regarding the location announcement challenge. Is it possible to be provided with the GPS coordinates of the location announcement positions?
- As per Technical Specification clause 6.2.2, teams are required to autocouple to the vehicle by a means provided by the team, and this may include items fitted to the vehicle being coupled to.
- Also as per Technical Specification clause 6.2.2, the interface on the vehicle to be coupled to will be the same as for a standard drawbar. This comprises a ‘U’ bracket mounted on the end of the vehicle through which a pin is inserted with the drawbar through the middle. Photo below.
- The draw and buffing loads of the coupling interface should principally take by the pin through the ‘U’ bracket, but the ‘U’ bracket and vehicle end panel on which this is mounted may also be used for maintaining the position of any device fitted to the vehicle end for the purposes of autocoupling.
- The organisers will provide further details and dimensions of the ‘U’ bracket arrangement on the vehicle to be used in the autocoupler challenge following the site visit in February. Teams attending this site visit may also make their own measurements and/or record other relevant details or take photos.
- The organisers cannot provide GPS coordinates for the location announcement positions. Teams are required to establish these and may do so remotely with reference to the 2024 point positions map attached. The organisers reserve the right to make minor amendments to the respective points in setting these during the challenge weekend. As such teams’ solutions to deliver against the requirements for this challenge should take account of the potential need to make amendments to the position coordinates during the challenge weekend, or develop a solution that otherwise delivers automatic location announcements at the correct locations.
What are the 10 points of data for the Remote Monitoring challenge? I can see a list in the Tech Spec, but when I count them, I can’t get exactly 10, normally a few more/less depending on the way I count them.
As per rule B2.3, there are 10 data signals to be monitored and recorded with 10 points awarded for successful delivery of each (five points for monitoring and five for recording). As per Technical Specification clause 5.10, the 10 data signals also include those mandatory indications under clause 5.7.1. For the avoidance of doubt, the 10 data signals are:
1. the location of the locomotive
2. traction/brake demand from the driver
3. brake system fault
4. traction application by the locomotive
5. brake application by the locomotive
6. fuel or charge level
7. status of recovered energy system
8. locomotive speed
9. automatic braking mode selected (active)
10. autocoupler status (coupled/uncoupled)
For recording of these data signals, a timestamp is also required.
In Clause 5.4, a new requirement has been added in that “The remote control unit shall include a second emergency stop button on a flying lead accessible to the riding judge”.
Our system uses an off the shelf wireless controller, as such, Would it be acceptable for the E-Stop button to be connected to the rear of the locomotive, rather than the controller?
As per Technical Specification clause 5.4 item 6, an emergency stop button on a flying lead accessible to the riding judge is required. The organisers confirm that it is not essential for the flying lead to be from the remote control unit, it can instead be direct from the locomotive provided it delivers the required functionality.
Regarding the specifications for 6.3.2 "Jacking or lifting for maintenance" in this year's Technical Specification:
Is it necessary to replace the power wheelset with a new one or do we just have to dismantel the wheelset bevor putting it back on? And if so, how far do we have to remove it from the locomotive before putting it back on?
Teams can put back the wheelset they remove. Removal has to be to a place completely away from the locomotive – reflecting the scenario where it is taken away for maintenance or repair.