Getting it right on safety critical software
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New guidance could make it easier for rail companies to specify complex software for safety-critical systems according to rail industry body, RSSB.

Trains increasingly rely on high integrity software for power, movement, in-cab signalling, door controls, and on-board diagnostics.  Getting the software right is vital, as problems can cause unnecessary cost and disruption to projects, or potentially a risk to safety and reliability.

The guidance note is aimed particularly at those who don’t necessarily have a detailed knowledge of software development processes, but will be useful to anyone involved in rolling stock projects.

RSSB’s Rolling Stock Engineer, Sam Newcombe explains: High integrity software has a lot to offer in terms of better safety, efficiency and reliability.  Traditionally the people responsible for rolling stock engineering have not needed to get into the technical detail of software, and so are not always used to asking the right questions to ensure software meets the needs of a particular project.  Our new guidance note is designed to help take people through the process, to specify, procure and review high-integrity software or software-based systems.  We think it will bring all-round improvement to the supply chain, and ultimately benefit rail users.

Guidance note:
Guidance on High Integrity Software-Based Systems for Railway (GEGN 8650)

Research:
Industry guidance on the use of software based systems for railway applications (T1047)

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