dessan Design in the digital railway

Source: RTM Oct/Nov 2018

Denise Watkins, business development manager at Hitachi Information Control Systems Europe (HICSE), discusses her organisation’s exciting new railway signalling design tool, dessan Design.

HICSE may appear to be a relatively young organisation, having been formed in 2015; however, this company has an impressive pedigree in the rail industry spanning almost 20 years. Originally known as The Railway Engineering Company (TREC), it provided signaller training simulation solutions to Network Rail and automatic route-setting software for integration with Siemens and Alstom signalling control systems.

Following acquisition by Hitachi in 2012 and the subsequent rebranding to HICSE, the company now also supports the Tranista Traffic Management System (TMS) deployment for the Thameslink Programme, acting as systems integration specialists on behalf of Hitachi Rail Europe which manages the client interface to Network Rail.

HICSE has a very talented team of software developers who bring many years of experience of systems integration and signalling technology, married with railway operations knowledge. This team has now developed a number of exciting tools designed to improve safety and efficiency in signalling project design and implementation. The dessan rail product suite features software to test the validity of SSI data designs and to undertake infrastructure modelling and simulation tools, including the recently launched dessan Design.

The company, working out of offices in the south west and central regions of the UK, has been closely involved with the signalling and operations domain since its formation, working with Network Rail and other clients to develop and deliver innovative new products, generally running on commercial grade PC workstations.

This association began with the TREsim training simulator which provides high-fidelity simulation of the operating railway for immersive scenario training. The TREsa automatic routing system followed, with initial installations in the West Coast Main Line control centres before further implementation around the UK. The simulation systems were also used as a test bed for prototype traffic management systems as part of Network Rail’s aspiration to roll out TMS in the UK.

Latterly, the simulators have been used to model potential benefits of widespread usage of digital signalling technology such as ETCS and TMS for the Digital Railway Programme. Network Rail’s Group Digital Railway is also seeking ways to reduce the cost of railway signalling projects and is also looking to bring innovation to the design and production process.       

HICSE’s latest innovation, dessan Design, fits neatly with the aim of a more efficient project design approach. It enables scheme plan drawings to be easily created and edited on screen using a ‘click and drop’ library of signalling components. The product has been developed for use in the early stages of a project when options for infrastructure and signalling layouts are being considered.

Uniquely, the software provides automated validation to check for basic errors, thus reducing the need for rework during the latter design stages. Users also have the ability to export drawings in multiple data formats for use in other tools to add any further detail required to create a complete scheme plan. It is expected the product will allow future development in automated design and test for signalling schemes.

Tim Gray, HICSE managing director, commented: “dessan Design is a great addition to the HICSE portfolio of software and data products designed for use in the railway industry.

“It draws on our excellent software expertise, but coupled with a real-world understanding of the signalling design process, so it also offers our clients opportunity to work more efficiently in delivery of projects. It is also a further step within Hitachi’s digital railway ambitions and our drive to become ‘an innovation partner for the IoT era.'"


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