The changing shape of the rapidity spectrum of net protons over the SPS energy range is still lacking theoretical understanding. In this work, a model for string excitation and string fragmentation is implemented for the description of high energy collisions within a hadronic transport approach. The free parameters of the string model are tuned to reproduce the experimentally measured particle production in proton-proton collisions. With the fixed parameters we advance to calculations for heavy ion collisions, where the shape of the proton rapidity spectrum changes from a single peak to a double peak structure with increasing beam energy in the experiment. We present calculations of proton rapidity spectra at different SPS energies in heavy ion collisions. Qualitatively, a good agreement with the experimental findings is obtained. In a future work, the formation process of string fragments will be studied in detail aiming to quantitatively reproduce the measurement.
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