PSI Blog

Meet the Expectations of Your Passengers with Safe and Reliable Train Management

07/11/2018 - Transport

Photo: © panimoni / Fotolia, PSI Transcom GmbH

Rail transport companies today face enormous challenges: growing passenger volumes, increasing demands for safety while maintaining on-time performance, and a need for modern technical systems and real-time information – and all of this in the face of a growing shortage of skilled workers.

In this context, the importance of continuing to automate train routing and dispatching often remains hidden, at least from passengers. But the fact is: There is lack of staff and a shortage of expertise, for example, among those moving to transport as a new career. This comes on top of the increasing complexity of planning systems. These issues can be overcome first and foremost by further automating operational processes with a cutting-edge train management system.

Safe, trouble-free and efficient train operation requires modern technology. Photo: PSI Transcom GmbH

Train management systems should provide reliable, trouble-free and efficient train operations. They guarantee on-time trains, reliable connections, and fast and reliable passenger information. It is clear that this demands a high degree of automation.

A look at the development of train management systems shows that the necessity and advantages of (partially) automating train management in rail traffic were recognised early on. Formerly mechanical signal boxes were relatively quickly replaced by electromechanical, and later, by relay systems. And even at that time, those responsible were mainly concerned with easing the burden on railway workers.

Today, electronic signal boxes can be found in many places. Remote control systems for train routing are increasingly being used for additional support, enabling further centralisation of the train routing system. However, this still requires requesting individual routes per train – an enormous challenge for dispatchers – not only in exceptional and dangerous situations. This is exactly where a train management system comes into play: additional automation of the train routing system aims specifically to support the dispatcher and to create the basis for further optimisation of operational processes.

Advantages of modern control technology

The control system continuously determines all necessary data and presents it clearly. Photo: PSI Transcom GmbH

The goals of introducing a modern control technology that serves the central control and monitoring of rail traffic are apparent:

  • Optimised planning utilising a complete overview of the operational situation is designed to increase the percentage of trains that are on-time, to offer better information to passengers in real-time,
  • and above all to allow dispatchers to concentrate on solving irregularities, since routine tasks are performed automatically by the system.
  • Employees also receive support in coping with disruptions through a so-called suggestion system – an enormous help that first and foremost also means significantly increased safety in hazardous or exceptional situations.

Combining standards and maximum flexibility

While most train management system suppliers have their origin in the manufacture or operation of switching technology, PSI's train management system has always been based on the search for optimised solutions for control systems. This results in a top-down view of projects, leading to a greater degree of customer orientation.

The central focus is considering the unique requirements of individual transport companies, not assuming a preconceived product landscape.

The PSItraffic platform also ensures a unique level of consistency and a high degree of solution flexibility. The exceptional benefit: Thanks to the system’s modularity, it is highly adaptable. At the same time, the modules are comprised of several standard components – similar to a Lego™ building block set.

The Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGBahn) operates on a scenic route between the Swiss cantons of Valais and Uri. The red narrow-gauge railway covers a distance of about 144 kilometers and runs through 44 stations. Several million passengers travel each year with around 400 trains. Photo: PSI Transcom GmbH

Component overview

The system continuously identifies all required data and presents it clearly to the employees at the headquarters. This includes

  • the current operational status,
  • vehicle locations,
  • disruptions and irregularities or potential conflicts.

Dispatchers in the control centre are therefore also able to provide information on all operational events directly to the customer.

The basic components of the train management system include modules for tracking, train routing, forecasting and conflict management. Additional modules are available for communication, passenger information, ensuring connections, quality management and infrastructure management.

The PSItraffic train management system at Regionalverkehr Bern-Solothurn and the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn. Source: PSI Transcom GmbH

Stages of development: Focus on energy management

Automatic and energy-optimised driving continues to move to the fore in times of scarce and expensive energy resources. The aim here is to avoid unnecessary consumption peaks caused by acceleration or braking. For example: If a station or track needed by the following train is occupied, the high-level view of the train routing system can calculate the optimum speed, including the possible arrival at the station. The technical foundations for this are already in place today. PSI Transcom is currently developing a prototype that will soon begin operation.

Optimised energy management also includes considerations for integrating train dispatching, automatic operations, and smart grids, which should lead to improved system stability. This integration, together with the appropriate management of the acceleration curves of each train in the network and energy supply points, can minimise local and temporal load peaks, leading to additional cost savings. Such solutions will be available from the PSI Group on the same technological basis, thus ensuring a high degree of system integration.

Mario Schröer

PSI Transcom GmbH
Division Manager Train Management