Rail Industry Focus

09.02.17

Industry sets out 12 key rail priorities to ‘strengthen case for funding’

Rail industry experts have come together to launch the Capability Delivery Plan (CPD), which highlights the current challenges facing the railway in the digital age and outlines 12 whole-system priority areas that need to be improved in the coming years.

Building on the Rail Technical Strategy (RTS) from 2012 and Network Rail’s 2013 Technical Strategy, the CPD was developed through consultation with experts from across the sector and its supply chain. It has been endorsed by the Rail Delivery Group and the Rail Supply Group – especially since it complements the latter’s ‘Fast Track for Growth’ strategy – and is being led by the industry Technical Leadership Group on their behalf.

The 12 ‘key capabilities’ identified in the plan are said to be essential to ensuring the railway can meet its objectives of increased capacity and better customer service in a “sustainable and affordable manner”.

It includes specific milestones that build towards the delivery of these key capabilities, as well as a programme structure that highlights the priority areas specifically for technology development and deployment.

Delivering against these priorities, the CPD said, will provide “quick-win improvements to strengthen the case for funding”.

The 12 key capabilities include:

  1. Running trains closer together
  2. Minimal disruption to train services
  3. Efficient passenger flows through stations and trains
  4. More value from data
  5. Optimum energy use
  6. More space on trains
  7. Services timed to the second
  8. Intelligent trains
  9. Personalised customer experience
  10. Flexible freight
  11. Low-cost railway solutions
  12. Accelerated research, development and technology deployment

“To deliver the CDP the rail industry and the supply chain will need to collaborate and new mechanisms for funding the development and deployment of technology into the railway system will need to be established,” the document read.

“The outputs from existing investments into technologies, which support the delivery of the CDP, will need to be taken forward to market so that the industry can reap the benefits from the renaissance in UK led rail technologies.”

The 2012 RTS originally set out a vision for a technologically-enabled railway that can deliver efficient, affordable, flexible and attractive transportation over the next 30 years. The 12 capabilities outlined in the CPD are “intrinsic” to realising this vision and will require “strong leadership, co-ordination and collaboration from all parts of the industry”.

“Rail is running the risk of being left behind other transport sectors, especially automotive, where technology development and deployment is enabling new business models and mobility solutions to prosper,” the CPD argued. “Eleven of the 12 capabilities need technologies to be developed (or transferred), integrated and deployed.

“Our twelfth capability, ’Accelerated Research, Development and Technology Deployment’, aims to inspire greater confidence to the rail supply chain and private funders by increasing the pace of development and delivery.

“A united effort can ensure that the plan’s milestones are included in industry planning, and that funding is co-ordinated, targeted, and secured.”

The RSSB has also made the plan available in an interactive format, where users can click on each of the 12 capabilities to view the specific milestones embedded within them.

Its head of rail technical strategy and TGL programme manager, Guy Woodroffe, said: “We are pleased that the delivery plan has been issued, but now comes the hard work of bringing the industry together to make the plan a reality.”

In a statement, the RSSB revealed that its research, design and technology projects that support the plan include a mobile app that uses Bluetooth to aid the flow of passengers through ticket gates; new seat designs, which improve comfort and boost customer capacity in carriages; and trialling new signalling technology, which will help meet the first key capability of allowing trains to run closely together.

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Comments

Adrian N   14/02/2017 at 12:13

Don't you love acronyms. Is Capability Development Plan "CDP" or "CPD"? Is Technical Leadership Group "TLG" or "TGL"? If the rail industry is to expand it's volume of acronyms still further we should be told!

Jerry Alderson   15/02/2017 at 02:11

We're all aware that "running trains closer together" will allow more trains to run on the existing track. Of course, that doesn't help if there is no spare capacity at terminal stations. That's why HS2 needs so many platforms. I would hope that "Intelligent trains" means one train co-operating with another. for example (and providing that the necesary crossovers exist), a slow train would move onto the opposite track (wrong line) to allow a fast train to pass it and then move back, whilst also informing the train coming in the operation to slow down so that it can get back onto the correct track. That would not actually be 'intelligent trains' but an intelligent traffic management system that controlled the trains. The trains themselves would be dumb - just communicating with the central system constantly. We would all like "Efficient passenger flows through stations and trains." This requires Network Rail putting the passengers first, rather than treating them as an inconvenience that has to be managed. You cannot just increase platform lengths without thinking of the consequences of dumping a large number of passengers on a platform at the same time. Mitigation is required such as widening footbridges (or building a second one), extending the gateline, providing more toilets etc. Building the brand new Cambridge North station with 12-car platforms but canopies over just two of them is the opposite of what is needed as in bad weather it will cause passengers to bunch together increasing dwell times at stations with serious consequencies for the timetable given long single-track sections. Network Rail has a lot to learn.

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