Modernising rail networks

As rail networks mature, infrastructure managers are required to optimise cost, reliability, safety, and capacity, all while driving fast migration using an ever-advancing suite of technologies. This tension between aging assets and inflexible architecture, and new technologies creates incompatibilities between vendor products and protocols, which drives higher costs and whole-of-life investment risks. 

Asset owners have become bound to technologies, processes and suppliers which are no longer providing for the needs of a modern railway or the communities they serve.  When network upgrades are required, it is these migration challenges, often relating to interfaces and product interoperability, that hinder a cost effective and timely project.  

Mapping a clear and achievable path way from current to future state with clear and logical architecture 

With clever planning and real forethought these projects can deliver seamless network upgrade while removing the impediments for future works and significantly reducing Whole of Life (WoL) costs. 

The solution lies in design via systems architecture, which represents the physical network in a digital form. This enables more effective planning, is less resource intensive, reduces effort and duplication, improves safety and security in design, enables the use of multiple suppliers and increases the ability to advance the technologies more easily in an existing system to meet the current and future requirements.  

Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) approach using the Reference Control, Command, and Signalling (CCS) Architecture (RCA) provides a clear and proven roadmap to achieving these goals.  

Creating clear and unambiguous interface definitions with RCA 

The RCA, developed using formalised methods by Railway Infrastructure Managers, is the enabler for clear and unambiguous interface definitions. It provides generic safety approvals (plug & play), a modular split of work, independent development of components (allowing for technical evolution) and is an important quality step in the specification of operators’ needs towards and strengthening of the supply industry. 

RCA creates a flexible and safe investment environment by defining a framework for modular standard products as a set of standard requirements used in CCS procurements. These standardised requirements are traceable through the infrastructure owner’s enterprise architecture or high-level concept documents so that they may be understood in relation to their impact on railway operations and ultimately to the business’s performance objectives. 

EU rail infrastructure owners are targeting whole-of-life cost savings of 65% as a direct result of implementing RCA. They are achieving performance objectives such as more trains, better connections, and more reliable on-time service.  

Driving consistency with Model Based System Engineering (MBSE) 

MBSE takes standard, well-proven systems engineering principles and practices and applies it using modern complex system design tools. All the data is captured in a single database, all documents can be generated from that single database and all specifications and designs are consistent with one another. 

Each stakeholder can be provided consistent information presented in a bespoke view that’s aligned to their point of view and priorities. This gives the ability to understand the conflicts and alignments between stakeholder needs and functions and a highly effective means to manage work package scope within a complex operational environment, where the network and business must be changed whilst maintaining existing performance. 

Ensuring success into the future with MBSE-enabled Asset Management 

The planning, design and implementation stages of network upgrades are only part of the picture. With 85% of whole-of-life costs committed by the end of design and 50% of actual whole-of-life cost expended during the operation and maintenance life cycle stage of the system; operation, maintenance, and future upgrade considerations benefits significantly from taking an early model-based approach.1 

Asset Management supported by MBSE allows a descriptive representation of the existing and future asset management strategy and functions. It is strategy and system agnostic so can be tailored to suit organisational requirements and can help organisations to consider more than one approach to asset management. Asset Management functions and requirements can be captured in the MBSE database and can interface with BIM, AM databases and reporting software to deliver seamless and consistent viewpoints to all stakeholders. 

It provides a descriptive semantic representation of the network and associated infrastructure that can be integrated into a visual representation driving more informed decision making.  

It delivers ‘real time’ network knowledge, and big data collection and processing i.e., automated condition and track assessment systems while supporting planned and programmed Maintenance Renewal & Operations. 

Real solutions to provide optimum outcomes for today and into the future 

Shoal’s leadership and expertise in leveraging common or standardised architectures, combined with SNC-Lavalin’s expert understanding of railway control, command, and signalling systems (CCS) including ETCS Level 2 to support and lead integration of CCS solutions into service. 

Our experience and expertise in MBSE within highly complex rail environments and integrated Digital Engineering tool sets reduce technical, cost and schedule risks to asset upgrade and network innovation programmes. 

With an aligned philosophy and approach to delivery through an RCA informed architecture we can enable:  

  • Significantly reducing whole-of-life costs 
  • Reducing technical risks like those relating to system integration and vendor product interoperability and supportability 
  • Improving the speed at which asset upgrades and network migrations can be implemented
  • Improving how new or upgraded systems are folded into the business’s Asset Management and Network Operations functions with better enablement of the other necessary business changes that need to be made to a variety of things, including Network Rules, RORP, Maintenance Task Instructions, etc. 
  • Improving the corporate knowledge within an organisation or agency and reducing the long-term reliance on external system experts, vendors, or contractors 
  • Demonstrating through traceable and explicit assurance that business case objectives and performance criteria relating to service capacity, frequency, reliability, and safety, are met. 

Collectively we have proven relevant experience in projects such as: