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RSSB grants deal for research into knock-on train delays

City, University of London’s Geographical Information Centre (giCentre) has been awarded a 12-month contract by the RSSB to look at knock-on train delays with Great Western Railway (GWR).

Dr Aidan Slingsby and Dr Cagatay Turkey, data visualisation academics at the centre, will collaborate with Risk Solutions to understand the causes and consequences of knock-on delays, and explore ways to tackle them in order to improve rail services for passengers.

The rail industry already collects information about the initial incidents that cause delay (primary delay) to help to improve performance and keep passengers informed. The number of primary delays has remained stable over recent years, at between 300,000 and 350,000 minutes a year.

However, the delay caused by the initial incident can often cascade through the network causing reactionary delay, which has steadily grown in recent years from 600,000 to 800,000 minutes.

According to the university, this was proving difficult to understand and control.

It is hoped that this project will give GWR a greater understanding of how random and multiple everyday incidents on the railways affect delays, which will allow for the development of the most effective contingency plans to reduce delays and cancellations.

Slingsby, a lecturer in visual and analytic computing, explained: “Our models will simulate the knock-on effects of a whole range of train delays.

“Many of these have little overall effect on the train service but some may cause large knock-on effects that impact other train services.”

The team at the university will design interactive visualisation methods to help GWR to understand the whole range of impacts of delays that happen at different times and in different places. The objective is to test a tool that can be used to determine the most effective interventions to control an recover from delay.

“They will then be able to put measures in place in order to reduce the likelihood of delays associated with the most serious knock-on effects,” Slingsby added.

Top image: Gareth Fuller PA Wire

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