“This is one of the most significant innovations in the running of UK rail during the last twenty years.”
Today SmartRail World gets an exclusive insight into one of world’s most advanced rail IT systems – Integrale – a unique single source of automated decision support information that aims to warn of rail service problems… before they even happen. Developed in the UK by train operating companies in collaboration with Worldline, an Atos company, and launched in 2010 the system now processes 1.2 million events a day for CrossCountry franchise and has now begun work with First Great Western with plans to expand further. Integrale began as a smart solution to the problem of the 11 million delay minutes per year on the UK rail network and the additional challenge of the knock-on delays that these cause. Train operators target this knock-on delay to improve performance but found that the information to do so was not always readily available to control room staff. A solution was required that was different to what had come before. And the answer was Integrale.
SmartRail World editor Luke Upton met with David Fox (pictured below), Senior Consultant at Worldline to understand the solution his team has developed; “With 25,000 man days and over a million lines of code it’s an overwhelmingly complex solution which really challenges the conventional engineering of rail decision making. In improving the operation of the network, the information has previously been available, but from disparate systems and getting it in a timely, organised and most importantly actionable fashion has not always been an option. Integrale solves this problem and in short provides the means to get the right resources in the right place at the right time and in the process creates a real-time system. This is one of the most significant innovations in the running of UK rail during the last twenty years.”
David showed me some of the types of screens that are displayed in the train operators control rooms and, even for a non-engineer like my-self, the display data – ranging from signalling issues to staff absenteeism – is in a clear and concise way. It allows those in the control room not only the ability to identify upcoming issues and risks to the train service but also provides options for their speedy resolution.
For the railways Integrale, in addition to reducing delays, helps create solutions and offers better informed decision making, it can also reduce IT costs and overheads, accelerate performance to meet franchise and regulator pressures, boost capacity and improve passenger satisfaction.
Saf Akram, Head of Control at CrossCountry, the first user of Integrale tells us more; “CrossCountry can expect to see a reduction in train cancellations and an overall improvement in train delays as a result of implementing this more advanced system which supports our controllers in predicting risks to train services and identifying mitigating actions, allowing a ‘predict and prevent’ mind set rather than a ‘reach and respond’ approach”.
Whilst the system also offers a number of benefits for staff in transforming the culture of the control room with a more modern and efficient approach, fostering greater collaboration between Operators and Network Rail, and through all this boosting productivity and morale. And in a time when recruitment and retention within the rail industry can be a challenge, this can only be a good thing.
To conclude I ask David Fox to sum up the offering; “While there are many sources of delay, and the causes of the majority of these cannot be prevented by Train Operators, the knowledge of impending delays and the time to prepare for them will reduce a TOCs own delay causation and it’s time to recover. Consequential delay accounts for some 75% of overall delay. It’s been fantastic developing it in a true partnership with first CrossCountry and now First Great Western and we are excited to see it rolled out further across the UK network and then further afield.” ∎
For more on Integrale contact David Fox: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Worldine provides business enabling IT services to support customers’ top line growth through an innovative, new and seamless user experience designed for engagement. With an unrivalled 40 years of experience and strong local links, Worldline is ideally positioned to support businesses of all sizes and contribute to their success in today’s fast growing and constantly evolving market landscape. The company generated annual revenues of € 1.1 billion in 2012 and employs over 7,000 people worldwide. www.worldline.com