State Prize for Digitalisation 2023 for PJM

A railway project was honoured with the Austrian State Prize for Digitalisation 2023. The automatic brake testing system from PJM emerged as the winner in the ‘Digital Transformation and Innovation’ category. State Secretary Claudia Plakolm and Harald Kräuter, ORF Director of Technology and Innovation, presented the award to CEO Günter Petschnig and COO Christoph Lorenzutti from PJ Monitoring GmbH.

 ‘We are delighted to receive this award for two reasons. The fact that a rail project was honored underlines the importance of rail freight transport in an economic and climate policy context. 10 years of development work, high investments and perseverance have been rewarded. This is great recognition for our entire team,’ says Günter Petschnig. He adds: ‘SBB Cargo is a great development partner. Such complex projects can only be successfully completed if all project partners pull together. A big thank you for the commitment, the belief in the technology and the great collaboration.

Short video on the automated brake test and its benefits

Press release 

The quality of the projects awarded this year as part of the State Prize for Digitalisation is impressive. You can see how much innovative strength there is in Austria in this core area, which is crucial for a successful future. I am delighted that we have been able to bring some particularly outstanding ideas to the fore with today's awards. On behalf of ORF, I would like to congratulate all of the award winners,’ emphasised Harald Kräuter, ORF Director of Technology and Innovation.

The jury of experts evaluated the open-topic submissions according to a catalogue of criteria such as degree of innovation, quality of implementation, high usability, added value for users and market potential. The submission phase was organized by the FFG (Austrian Research Promotion Agency). The jury's statement: ‘The submission Digital Rail Transport - Automated Brake Test enables the digitalization of the previously manual inspection of brakes in rail transport using special sensor technology and remote evaluation via mobile operating devices. This reduces the manual effort and duration of the brake test. By automating this inspection process, the physical strain on staff and the time required for the inspection are reduced. This means that the rolling stock can be put back into service more quickly and enables rail transport capacities to be increased. This patented system has already been approved and is being used successfully by the SBB Cargo.’


Staatspreis für Digitalisierung 2024


The State Prize for Digitalisation shows that Austria is a strong location for digital innovations. We must continue to develop our qualities in a targeted manner and, above all, further strengthen digital skills throughout Austria. They are an important basis for successful digital transformation and innovative companies. I would like to congratulate all the award winners who are making new digital success stories possible for the whole of Austria and are attractive role models for other companies and institutions,’ said State Secretary for Digitalisation Claudia Plakolm.

Digitalisation is a decisive factor for growth and broad prosperity, which we must use in a targeted manner in Austria. Openness to technology is the indispensable basis for innovations that secure our competitiveness and thus our entire way of life. I am impressed by the achievements of the award winners and congratulate them warmly. Because they tackle and implement - that is the right spirit for the future,’ said a delighted Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer.



The sensation in rail freight automation: BAV’s type approval for automatic brake testing

Now it's official: the automated brake testing system has been granted type approval by the Swiss “Federal Office of Transport” (Schweizer Bundesamt für Verkehr). Hence, the automated brake taste is the first approved system worldwide and the first far-reaching automated application in European rail transport. The system was developed with SBB Cargo and is a functionally safe application that has been trialled in various phases over several years. The project milestones in brief:

  • 2017: First test trains
  • 01/ 2022: Pilot train
  • 03/2022: Positive review by TÜV Süd
  • 11/2023: Operational approval by BAV

The automated application provides many benefits:

- Enormous time saving: for a 500 m long goods train, the time saved is around 75 minutes (35 minutes each for 2 shunters)

- Faster, more reliable and safer: the brake check can be carried out automatically by the train driver, is more reliable and increases safety (thanks to the consistent quality of the brake check and the system's objective evaluation criteria).

- Freight wagon downtimes are significantly reduced, while terminal turnaround times are increased.

- The implementation of an automatic brake test brings a concrete and - this is particularly important - immediate improvement for the railway companies.

- For the shunting staff and those responsible for brake testing, the automatic brake test means an improvement in the workplace situation. The interactive operation of a clearly displayed system replaces the strenuous, physically demanding manual inspection.

- The brake test is an essential part of the "1-person operation" that is gradually being implemented by railway companies such as SBB Cargo, particularly as a measure to manage the shortage of skilled labour resulting from demographic development.

Günter Petschnig, CEO of PJ Monitoring, looks back on several years of development: "It's a long way from the vision to the innovation of a completely new system. A major project of this size can only be successfully realised if the project partners work together step by step over several years. The teams at SBB Cargo and PJM have done a fantastic job. A big thank you to the stamina and commitment of everyone involved!"

Media release


Digital freight train by SBB Cargo: Pilot project was launched

SBB Cargo is a pioneer in the automation of rail transport. Now an international consortium has launched the pilot train "DAC+". On board is the automatic brake test from PJM, among many other features provided by international consortium partners. 

The consortium's goal is to advance automation and digitalisation in rail freight transport and thus, among other things, single-person operation. The centrepiece is the recently launched digital pilot train "DAC+".

More on this in the media info released by SBB Cargo:


20230117_134315-klein2023-02-16 09.28.33klein

Technical article in "Eisenbahntechnische Rundschau" on the automatic brake testing system

The "Eisenbahntechnische Rundschau" reports on the completed product development of the automated brake testing system in a detailed technical article. Read more about the technology and the timeline of the pioneering system (in German language):




In the spotlight of Railway Pro: Automated brake test system development is completed

The international magazine Railway Pro reports on the milestone of digital railfreight: The development of the automated brake test is completed. Get the full story:



A milestone of digital rail freight: Product development of automated brake testing system completed

The completed automated brake test is a milestone for digital rail freight transport. The product development is completed. Without any doubt, the automated brake testing of rail freight wagons is one of the most important processes to make rail freight transport efficient and modern. “The serial operation is imminent. The system is now available and brings immediate, concrete effects for railway companies and a general impact for rail freight transport by gaining attractiveness”, says CEO Günter Petschnig. 

The automated brake test system was put on track years ago: Since spring 2018, the first pilot train has been in operational testing. Since March 2019, 105 wagons equipped with the digital system have been running in Switzerland. SBB Cargo leads the operational integration. Further nearly wagons haven been equipped with the automated system since April 2019. The brake testing system was designed and developed by PJM. The validation is expected to be finalised and the system is supposed to go into series production by the end of this year.

Get the full presse release including details on the solution and its steps to a complete system:


A crucial element of digital rail freight: The automated brake test in the spotlight of ETR magazine

"A significant element of digital rail freight: automated brake test" - that's the title of the paper in the latest issue of ETR magazine, which is one of the leading technical magazines in German language. What's the paper about? You'll get a comprehensive summary on:
  • The current process of brake tests which is purely manually performed
  • The requirements of automated brake tests from a technical and process-driven point of view. 
  • The functionalities and benefits of our brake test-app

Key player: The automatic brake test in the one-person-operated-train

10 minutes instead of 40: This crucial time saving is no longer just a future vision but reality. The automatic brake test has been in operation on rail freight trains by SBB Cargo. By the end of the tests, 1 million km will have been run. Regarding the development of the automatic brake test, crucial know-how comes from PJM. Get more about the status quo of the “one-person-operated-train” by SBB Cargo and the automatic brake test developed by SBB Cargo, PJM and Rail Cargo Austria in the latest issue of the German special interest magazine PJM.




In the spotlight of the Swiss Touring-Magazine: Digital brake tests and automated coupling of SBB Cargo

The January issue of the Swiss Touring-Magazine provides a long story on the innovative projects of SBB Cargo (in German language). Digital brake tests and automated coupling replace hard and demanding manual work. By automatising processes, the SBB Cargo will cope with future shortage of staff which is caused by large-scales retirements of the baby-boomer generation.

Hightech from Graz for Swiss rail freight transport

The local weekly newspaper provides an article on the automatic brake test system, which was provided for the SBB Cargo.
Online article (in German language):


2019-06-24 12_49_05-Unternehmen -

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