The SNCF Réseau team analyzes future earthworks on the EOLE site.
Customer Profile: SNCF Réseau designs, constructs, and operates an extensive railway network in France, including France’s high-speed rail network. With 28,000 kilometers of lines in operation, SNCF runs 15,000 trains, transports 250,000 tonnes of goods, and transports 5 million passengers every day. In 2022, SNCF worked on over 1,750 projects involving all railway systems, including energy distribution, signaling, and track and civil works.
Background: In recent decades, SNCF has had to meet the “twin challenges” of increasing traffic demand and deteriorating infrastructure conditions. In response, the railway administration is undergoing a comprehensive upgrade program to modernize the network. In 2020, SNCF continued its long-standing relationship with Trimble by selecting the integrated Trimble Quadri and Trimble Connect solution to serve as the central system within its Enterprise Common Data Environment. As a result of this renewed partnership, SNCF Reseau has built its own BIM Fab team responsible for deploying new and emerging BIM technologies.
Business Challenge: Use the East West Express Link (EOLE) project to build a Proof of Concept to showcase how augmented reality can reduce rework by bridging the gap between design and construction operations.
- €6 million saved by reducing rework through the utilization of BIM and augmented reality
Tying GIS and BIM Data Together With an Integrated Common Data Environment Platform
The French Railway Administration, SNCF Réseau, operates a 35,000 kilometers (22,000 miles) railway network across France and into neighboring countries. Around 14,000 trains run daily, with a high concentration of activity around Paris, carrying both passengers and freight on the high-speed and electrified lines. The state-owned infrastructure manager bears the sole responsibility for the rail’s maintenance, upgrade projects, and traffic management.
In recent decades, SNCF has met the “twin challenges” of increasing traffic demand and deteriorating infrastructure conditions. In response, the railway administration is undergoing a comprehensive upgrade program to modernize the network. SNCF’s construction project goals are to improve the quality and extent of transportation services offered.
To lay the framework for the hundreds of upgrades projects in the queue, SNCF partnered with Trimble Consulting to create a centralized common data environment (CDE) to share information and streamline data workflows. The Trimble Consulting team implemented an integrated solution using both Trimble Quadri and Trimble Connect to federate all company information and building information modeling (BIM) data into one consolidated and integrated system.
“SNCF has chosen Trimble solutions as the cornerstone of their strategy to enhance their infrastructure projects' efficiency. The Quadri and Trimble Connect technologies' ability to enable owners, planners, designers, engineers and contractors to all safely share their discipline-specific models in a single platform, facilitates close-knit and concurrent teamwork between all project stakeholders. All the while using their existing tools,” explains Nassim Saoud, EMEA director, Trimble Consulting.
Overview of SNCF Réseau + Trimble Partnership and Accomplishments
Connecting Design Data with Construction Operations
After realizing the benefits of a centralized project data system, the SNCF Réseau team was eager to find another BIM solution—this time focused on improving quality and productivity during the construction and operation phases of work.
The active and upcoming French Railway projects are large in scale and difficult in complexity. Between the countless moving parts and multiple stakeholder involvement, any gaps in communication or coordination on the high-stakes project quickly contribute to project setbacks. If project design changes are not communicated with the construction team onsite, costly rework becomes plentiful.
As the master BIM model is continuously modified throughout the project, keeping the field team updated on these changes is a difficult order. A project manager on the “East West Express Link” or EOLE project expressed a need to track all design changes on the BIM model to gain better control over design variations and communicate these changes promptly and thoroughly to the onsite construction crew.
The EOLE project will extend the existing RER E line to the west, from Paris Saint-Lazare to Mantes-la-Jolie, expanding train services offered in the western part of the Ile-de-France region. Offering an alternative route during rush hour will limit the congestion at the RER A line, which serves up to 1.2 million passengers daily. The mega infrastructure project, valued at upwards of four billion euros, is expected to be completed by 2024.
Using Augmented Reality to Infuse Linear Infrastructure Projects with Digital Data
To bridge the gap between design changes in the office and construction operations in the field, the Trimble Consulting team worked with SNCF Réseau to implement a strategic solution using Trimble’s SiteVision technology.
SiteVision is an augmented reality (AR) system that allows users to visualize a project’s BIM design model in a real-world environment with superior accuracy. Using a SiteVision device and a smartphone, the project team could view future features of work—like tracks and train platforms or earthwork grades—overlaid on their project site in real-time.
Trimble Consulting assisted the EOLE team in preparing their BIM models for integration with the SiteVision application. The upstream data preparation required (1) setting up a calibration file to facilitate automatic satellite alignment, (2) establishing stationing or “Kilometer Points” so users can easily determine a vertical location, and (3) adjusting the size and sectioning of the project model so it can be loaded and read seamlessly.
SNCF Réseau established a “BIM Fab” team to manage these new and emerging AR technologies, including Trimble platforms like SiteVision and Connect AR. The goal of the BIM Fab team is to build a network of individuals who champion these tools across their company and continue to test and deploy them within ongoing construction projects.
Seamless Deployment of Augmented Reality in the Field
After preparing the BIM model for integration with SiteVision, Trimble Consulting and the BIM Fab team deployed the technology onsite at the EOLE project. The first attempt using the SiteVision application onsite was successful, thanks to both teams' calculated planning and coordination.
The BIM Fab team and Trimble Consulting demonstrated to the construction operations team the benefits of incorporating SiteVision within their day-to-day operations, such as:
- Leveraging live data: Large-scale projects undergo thousands of design changes from start to finish. SiteVision retrieves data from the live design model, ensuring the operations team builds from the latest and greatest version.
- Making better-informed decisions: With real-time reporting from the field to the office and vice versa, project stakeholders can make better-informed decisions based on accurate information.
- Visualizing upcoming work: Site leaders can better plan upcoming work, allocating the necessary materials and labor based on real-time project visualizations.
- Minimizing rework: Constructing from the live design model minimizes rework that can lead to an increased project budget and duration.
- Evaluating constructability: Crews can utilize the detailed augmented reality and precise measurement projections to evaluate design constructability.
The SNCF Réseau team uses the power of augmented reality to verify how design issues could negatively impact future construction.
The SiteVision technology and centralized CDE will be leveraged in the construction phase and throughout the entire project lifecycle, from initial planning to final operations.
"Creating digital models and enriching these consistently through a secure open CDE will also enable us to operate and maintain our infrastructure to the highest standards during its entire lifecycle,” explains Pierre-Etienne Gautier, director of SNCF Réseau BIM and Digital Continuity Program.
Trimble Consulting continues to provide the French Railway Administration with strategic advisement and technology implementation as part of the three-year contract between the parties.