Greater Automation and its Role in Improving Performance

The industry faces a major capacity challenge, following two decades of significant passenger growth which has resulted in congestion on key parts of the network: automation is an important part of the solution but needs to be part of a human-centred approach.

The traffic management systems that are currently used on the railway are designed to allocate a pre-set duration for each train to pass through a junction. This pre-set duration can be longer than necessary because the system does not know, and so cannot take into account, the junction entry speed and trajectory of each train.

Our research shows that it is possible to combine the DEDOTS dynamic train control optimisation system – which was developed as part of long-term solutions for traffic management (FuTRO) – with a Driver Advisory System (DAS) to optimise train trajectories in order to reduce pass-through durations and improve junction throughput. Several lines already use DAS's, mainly for fuel saving, but in order to achieve better throughputs at key junctions, the next generation Connected-DAS (C-DAS) that focuses on capacity increase is required. 

Another project, due to publish its findings in the summer of 2019, is exploring the impact of Automatic Train Operation (ATO), which is being introduced to mainline rail for the first time on Thameslink and Crossrail. There are clear benefits to ATO, including increased efficiency and capacity, greater timetable flexibility and more punctual trains, but little is currently known about its effects on driver health and wellbeing.

The research compares health and wellbeing data – including markers such as absenteeism, occupational health referrals and viewpoint surveys – from automated and non-automated lines on the London underground, where ATO has been deployed for many years. It also encompasses staff interviews and comparative analysis with Arriva Train Wales, following implementation of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). 


 Topics covered:

  • Traffic management systems
  • Dynamic train control optimisation
  • Driver advisory systems
  • Junction throughput
  • Automatic train operation
  • Health and wellbeing data


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Future Traffic Regulation Optimisation (FuTRO) - (T952)
FuTRO - Increase Fundamental Knowledge for Optimising Traffic Management T1071
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Updating DEDOTS for integration with C-DAS (COF-G17-01)
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Researching the impact of railway automation on health and wellbeing T1139
RSSB-GBMR-OC Iss 2 - Operational Concept for the GB Mainline Railway
RIS-0711-CCS Iss 1 - Interface Requirements for Connected Driver Advisory System
Over the Horizon - a series on automation
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