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With passenger journey numbers continuing to increase dramatically across all modes of public transport, operators face the constant challenge of meeting this growing demand while continuing to deliver safe, comfortable, fast and efficient journeys. Central to achieving this challenge in the rail sector is the introduction of the digital railway and its modern signalling and communication systems.
However, the solution doesn’t only rely on the introduction of infrastructure improvements. Because the world isn’t simply a model of clean, clear variables with defined interactions, human factors also have to be considered. Trains move people around and people interact with one another.
Patterns of behaviour vary according to a whole host of factors, for example the weather, time of day and day of the week, with commuters and tourists also behaving very differently.
Having signalling systems and high-performance trains capable of achieving a high-capacity service won’t help if a passenger’s umbrella gets stuck in the doors, or if escalators and stairways get congested and people can’t quickly move off a platform. This problem is increasing as ridership rises to a point where the entire system of trains, platforms and stations approaches saturation.
So understanding how people behave and then predicting and responding to their behaviour is an area where mobile technology and data-farming can start to be used. Engineers can then be better informed as they design systems capable of responding to such factors. Along with other companies, industry stakeholders and academia, Siemens is now investing in finding and developing innovative approaches to respond to this challenge.
At the same time, we are also developing other ways of optimising performance, including closer integration of control systems. Having signalling and control systems in the same room as telecoms, public address and passenger information is not necessarily new, but the additional integration of systems such as closed-circuit television, lifts, escalators, ventilation, power distribution and traction control systems is. Our systems bring all such functions to a small number of multi-headed workstations, allowing operational savings through more efficient use of staff and a faster, more coordinated and effective response to unplanned events.
Modern railways are a complex combination of systems working together. Many of these can operate automatically to set routes, regulate trains and make decisions about passenger flow, but performance and costs of the whole system are only optimised when they are fully integrated. This involves clear and detailed system engineering to ensure information is available to all systems that need it, including the operators who need support to make decisions quickly and efficiently.
As equipment manufacturers, we are making strides in the development of new signalling and control systems, trains, traction and environmental control systems, but it is only when we consider how these systems work together, and design them to do so, that we start to deliver systems that can move people around; not just trains.
Although digitalisation covers a broad range of technologies and systems, with operators and infrastructure owners seeking to gather data from multiple sources to enable them to more efficiently manage their assets, ETCS is one of its fundamental building blocks. ETCS systems form the basis of operational and technical interoperability between on-board and lineside equipment.
Siemens is at the heart of the digitalisation programme in the UK, as well being one of the leaders in the development of ETCS, with the company’s Trainguard ETCS portfolio of products and systems delivering operational and performance benefits to rail operators across Europe.
Based on high-performance and reliable platforms, which meet stringent safety requirements and comply with the Technical Specification for Interoperability (TSI), Trainguard provides sophisticated, field-proven systems and products which can be tailored to meet the requirements of each specific application. The system is fully-scalable and incorporates lineside, on-board and communication equipment for ETCS applications, meeting all the requirements for Level 2 programmes.
As a partner for both infrastructure owners and train operators, Siemens is able to offer completely integrated solutions, which can be used either for new lines or in retrofit programmes, where if required, a migration path can be developed to move to ETCS in a managed way over a number of phases.
Siemens can also provide full turn-key solutions. Operating from four centres of excellence across Europe, including in the UK, its experienced ETCS project teams are able to manage projects from inception through to installation, testing, approval, final commissioning and maintenance. The company also has a number of dedicated test centres, where the systems to be delivered are subjected to rigorous testing before being put into use. These tests are run under live conditions, considerably reducing both project durations and commissioning times.
In the UK, Siemens work with Network Rail for the Thameslink programme has seen the installation of a vertically-integrated system, with the company providing the trains, train control and signalling systems that has allowed safety, reliability and capacity all to be increased. This project demonstrates some of the opportunities and capabilities of the digital railway, with ETCS one of the key control systems, helping to increase capacity through more effective train control and ultimately to deliver the programme’s performance targets of 24 trains per hour through the core areas in peak times.
These new products effectively enable current trains to become smart trains, with a number of integrated functions delivering operational and economic benefits to the train and infrastructure owners, including improved efficiency and reliability and reduced costs and train downtime.
Ciro De Col, Siemens Sales and Marketing Manager
Nexus Lodestar DAS provides a real-time driver advisory system, delivering route information and speed advice to drivers. By promoting a consistent and economical driving style, the system enables significant energy savings to be made, train punctuality to be improved and maintenance costs to be reduced. Route data, timetable updates and temporary speed restrictions (TSRs) are all uploaded remotely to the system, using the Nexus cab radio maintenance terminal (CRMT).
Nexus RCM is an in-service remote condition monitoring application, which detects track defects on three axes, either via the cab radio or on a stand-alone basis. By installing the system fleet-wide, Nexus RCM is able to provide a network-wide track assessment in just a few days using in-service trains. The system is also highly customisable to meet operators’ different requirements and can be tailored to detect rough-ride, track voids, dip-track, bogie flats etc.
Finally, using the existing on-board PA cable, the installation of Nexus Connect provides an Ethernet backbone for the train, with Ethernet Bridges situated in every carriage to distribute the wireless connectivity. The backbone can also be used to transfer sensor data from key on-board assets throughout the train and then onto the ground. Data from sensors measuring carriage and engine temperature, doors, lights, etc. can be used to inform predictive maintenance programmes. For this application, the Nexus Voice cab radio system can be used as a media gateway, transferring data to and from the train.
Working in close collaboration with London Underground (LU), in April 2017 our 70-strong team successfully and safely completed the final commissioning of the Victoria Line Upgrade 2 (VLU2) programme, enabling LU to deliver a 36 trains per hour (tph), world‑class service on the Victoria Line.
The Victoria Line is LU’s most-used and best-performing line in terms of operations and reliability, and following implementation of a new timetable in May, trains are now pulling into its stations every 100 seconds, enabling 3,000 more passengers to travel every hour during peak periods.
VLU2 involved extensive signalling, rolling stock, power, cooling and infrastructure upgrades, with the final commissioning the culmination of a complex five year programme. During the commissioning, we upgraded signalling and rolling stock systems to reflect the extensive VLU2 infrastructure changes, with comprehensive installation, testing, principles testing and test-train running successfully completed.
Our work included updating the train-borne automatic train control (ATC) system geographic map (GeoData), as well as making changes to the service control system to allow trains to run at closer intervals, thereby increasing capacity.
Following our work on the initial Victoria Line Upgrade project which was completed in 2012, we were delighted to have completed the VLU2 programme and to have contributed to the safe delivery of a truly world-class service for London.
In the twelve months leading up to the commissioning, combined LU/ Siemens project teams at all levels successfully delivered 23 stage commissionings on the Victoria Line, 37 if our work together on Night Tube for London is included, with minimum disruption to passengers.
This was all achieved thanks to extremely close and collaborative relationships within the team, with a real determination and commitment from everyone involved to deliver this ground-breaking project
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