As part of the RSSB PERFORM challenge, the Data Sandbox initiative was set up to highlight the importance of data within the rail industry. To mark the announcement of the second round’s winners, RSSB held its first ever Ministerial virtual visit on Tuesday, 9 June. 

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris joined RSSB CEO, Mark Phillips, alongside two project leads – Dan Chick from Zipabout, and Jonathan Hyde from RiskSolutions.

The ministerial visit started with a pre-recorded tour of the Romford ROC and a testimonial from Greater Anglia. The Minister was then treated to demonstrations of the tools developed by Zipabout and Risk Solutions. 

Following the presentations, discussions focussed on the importance for rail to be more innovative and data driven. The Minister agreed that the industry must collaborate to ensure more open data sharing and inferred that requirements that facilitate this may be included in future franchise agreements.

The Data Sandbox+ projects show what can be achieved through good collaboration. As mentioned by the project leads from Zipabout and RiskSolutions, contractual frameworks need to be put in place to provide access and reassure data owners that commercial sensitivities will be protected.  

As stressed in the Rail Sector Deal and in the new Rail Technical Strategy—due to be launched later in the year—data is a key asset to both enhance passenger experience and increase the reliability of the system. Therefore, rail must realise the potential that comes from its data and stress the importance of capturing and using data more efficiently. 

The Data Sandbox+ projects are doing this and showing how new analytics techniques, Machine Learning, AI etc. could help us improve network performance.

Below, we have included the video of the Romford ROC Tour and also key points from the presentations:

This video below is the recording of the visit: