Leading railways are harnessing digital technology to build timetables and control the network in ways that boost reliability – even as train frequency increases.
Britain’s railway professionals work hard to deliver services that leave and arrive on time.
The percentage of trains reaching their destination on time has improved to 90 per cent, and today, the UK has the seventh most reliable railway in Europe – despite having the most congested network. Britain needs a railway that continues to improve reliability whilst running more trains that run faster. This means tackling root causes of poor performance, especially signalling and train control.
- Despite their high construction and maintenance costs, signalling asset failures are a major cause of delays. In 2014-15, there were 16,228 signalling failures which were severe enough to affect a service.
- Conventional signalling and train control systems reduce the potential capacity and flexibility of the network, which struggles to recover quickly when things go wrong. Even a single disruption can cause a chain-reaction of delay across the network.
- Timetables are planned between two and four years in advance and are then largely fixed. Around 20,000 defects must be corrected in a semi-manual way. By contrast, modern digital Traffic Management identifies and tests options for new train paths in real time and creates rapid options for more effective ‘conflict free’ timetables.
Leading railways are harnessing digital technology to build timetables and control the network in ways that boost reliability – even as train frequency increases. On London’s Jubilee line, new signalling has allowed more frequent trains to run – now 30 every hour – carrying 12,500 extra passengers an hour on a service that’s 50% more reliable.