The situation is a heavy machinery example of something that happens across most categories of electronics, from phones, laptops, health devices, and wearables to tractors and, apparently, trains. In this case, NEWAG, the manufacturer of the Impuls family of trains, put code in the train’s control systems that prevented them from running if a GPS tracker detected that it spent a certain number of days in an independent repair company’s maintenance center, and also prevented it from running if certain components had been replaced without a manufacturer-approved serial number.

The problem was so bad that an infrastructure trade publication in Poland called Rynek Kolejowy picked up on the mysterious issues over the summer, and said that the lack of working trains was beginning to impact service: “Four vehicles after level P3-2 repair cannot be started. At this moment, it is not known what caused the failure. The lack of units is a serious problem for the carrier and passengers, because shorter trains are sent on routes.”

Very good article, I’d recommend reading it. I hope the court rules against NEWAG and sets a precedent for right to repair.

  • 𝒍𝒆𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒏
    7 months ago

    I hope this NEWAG gets raked over the coals for this.

    It’s outrageous to hold public infrastructure at ransom because the equipment spent X days in an independent repair shop - and pretty invasive to have DRM monitoring the train’s GPS location, and in some cases live reporting these back to the manufacturer to facilitate a remote lockdown.

    Not to mention pushing an update to flag up a copyright warning on a screen in the drivers’ cab while the train is running 🤦‍♂️

    I commend the engineer at the independent repair facility that had the idea to have hackers pick apart the train’s control unit, and the rest of the team for agreeing to it.