February 08, 2017

British industry issues blueprint for the digital train

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BRITAIN’s Railway Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has unveiled its Capability Delivery Plan (CDP) for the British network, which is described as the “blueprint for the age of the digital train.”

The CDP identifies 12 areas to improve over the next 25 years in order to successfully carry an ever-increasing number of passengers and enhance customer service all while improving safety, affordability and sustainability.

The CDP is intended as a supplementary document to the Rail Technical Strategy, which was issued in 2012, and infrastructure manager Network Rail’s Technical Strategy, issued in 2013, and identifies the priority activities that need to happen now and the subsequent steps that will follow over the next 25 years in order for the railway to remain competitive.

It is endorsed by the Rail Supply Group, which represents the British supply chain, and the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Britain’s passenger and freight operators, and implementation is being led by the Technical Leadership Group (TLG) on their behalf.

The 12 key capabilities are:

• Running Trains closer together to increase capacity
• Minimal disruption to train services by utilising predictive and preventative maintenance, plus faster repair times to improve reliability and availability
• Efficient passenger flow through stations and trains through smarter ticketing and human-centred design
• More value from data: Data collection and real-time information will inform decision-making and provide customers with useful and up-to-date information
• Efficient use of energy through intelligent distribution and energy storage technologies to deliver a more cost-effective use of energy on the railway
• More space on trains by offering more generous and flexible train interiors that better meet the different and changing demands of customers
• Services timed to the second: knowing the exact location and speed of all trains in real-time will improve situational awareness, increase operational flexibility and allow for faster recovery from disruption
• Intelligent trains that are aware of themselves and their surroundings, knowing where they need to be and when, and able to automatically adjust journeys to meet demand
• Personalised customer experience from tailored information and services so that travel by rail becomes a seamless part of the overall journey
• Flexible freight: trains designed to carry varying loads, combined with better planning and tracking capabilities, will increase flexibility and capacity for freight customers
• Low-cost railway solutions: railway lines and trains which are designed, built and operated at low cost will make low-density traffic lines viable and allow rail to compete for new business, and
• Accelerated research, development and technology deployment will more readily and rapidly integrate technologies into the railway system.

More than 200 research and technology projects relating to the programme are planned. Among the current RSSB key research projects that support the plan are a new mobile app that uses Bluetooth technology to aid the flow of passengers through ticket gates; new seat designs to improve comfort and capacity; and trials of new signalling technology which includes train-to-train communication.

“We are pleased that the delivery plan has been issued, but now begins the hard work of bringing the industry together to make the plan a reality,” says Mr Guy Woodroffe, RSSB’s head of rail technical strategy and Technical Leadership Group progamme manager.

For more on the Capability Delivery Plan, see the exclusive interview with RSSB in the November 2016 edition of IRJ, p36, or click here.



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