Our Editor, Charlotte, writes…
I was on an evening train from London. The passenger in the next seat was a young man who spent the entire time poring over computer sheets and jotting down figures in his notebook. Consumed with curiosity, I asked him what the data was about.
“I am a train driver,” he said. “This data is about train delays. Each time there is a disruption, there is a cost adjustment between the rail companies. It depends whose fault it is. If I am driving on the southeastern network, and a track fault on Southern causes delays on trains into Kent, which then delay my train, Southern have to pay.”
I was impressed with such detailed recording of train delays, and the complications of transactions between the privatised railway companies, which would not have been necessary, presumably, when they were all one British Rail. But then inter-company finance may not be the most important issue. What matters is what causes train delays and now to deal with it in real time, so as to cause least inconvenience.
Computer software to the rescue
It seems that a software solution is on the way, as a recent press release reveals below:
ITAL, an innovative company with a deep understanding of the challenges facing rail networks, has announced the launch of its new MERLIN for control rooms to manage operations and disruptions from a single, intelligent interface.
A real gamechanger for network operations, the platform is designed to deliver greater control and efficiency of the stock, crew, and service schedules and, as a cloud-based service, provides train operators with a real-time presentation layer of data from other train and resource planning systems, intelligent analysis, contextualisation, and clear, accurate information for enhanced decision making.
Complexity of networks makes management of delays difficult
Rail networks are complex, making disruptions and delays difficult to manage. This can cost the rail industry and UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds and reduces customer confidence in the services provided. Controllers need to determine the best course of action to reduce the impact of disruption but, with so many different data sources and knock-on effects to consider and the need to input decision criteria into multiple systems, it is difficult to make and disseminate the best decisions in a timely manner.
Providing a real-time holistic view and analysis of rail operations with complete stock, crew, and train service management, MERLIN fully supports effective decision-making during disruptions, allowing the management of complex incidents through one easy-to-use interface. The intelligent data platform interfaces with systems throughout the rail network, including Network Rail, RDG, and Darwin, bringing data into a single view for control room staff. It analyses the combined data and delivers timely, accurate, real-time information when and where it is needed.
Automation speeds up decision-making
The system can automate tedious, time-consuming, error-prone manual processes and arms controllers with the facts they need to make rapid decisions, reduce the impact of disruptions, improve customer satisfaction, and enhance brand reputation. Ultimately it will help rail operators better manage day to day operations, mitigate risks, and increase revenues across the network.
Derrick Bilsby, CEO at ITAL, says,
“MERLIN integrates all aspects of rail operations and works seamlessly alongside existing systems, aggregating data and presenting it to the user in a clear view. It is an agile solution and, as we work with different operators, we continue to add new modules and functionality.”
The MERLIN platform offers many options and a multitude of modules to enable operators to select or develop the specific functionality they need. Within the platform, the KINETIC app enables real-time updates of driver schedule cards and crew diagrams with two-way communication for staff to accept, decline or acknowledge changes to their daily schedule. The app enables feedback from the crew and quick fault reporting.
“MERLIN is the future for rail operations. The rail network is going through a new era of digitalisation and already contains huge volumes of data. Our platform is designed for complete flexibility and works with any system that has data available to ensure higher levels of operational efficiency, greater resilience to disruptions, and better communication with staff and customers. MERLIN is a service that can be quickly deployed and used to address many of the challenges the UK rail industry is experiencing today and, as it is built to readily adapt to changing needs, provides a platform that will enable the industry to grow stronger for the future.”
Please visit this link to know more.
ITAL is a leading software development house that delivers innovative, cutting-edge, SaaS technology to the transport sectors, with a key focus on Rail Operations and Revenue Protection. Our in-house technical and UX design expertise, ensures our clients have the tools and solutions at their fingertips to meet business requirements and solve industry challenges.
Media Contact: Hemant Deswal [email protected] at BCM Public Relations Ltd.