NR+: UK’s first Integrated Digitised Rail Infrastructure Platform for Planning

Lead Participant: University of Hull

Abstract

Planning and scheduling of trains are very complex tasks due to their highly specialized and combinatorial nature. In the UK, the required information for planning and scheduling is very fragmented. Planners must deal with a large number of requests and must consider a myriad of infrastructure constraints, consulting a variety of databases and paper-based documents to perform their tasks which is quite frustrating and inefficient in this day and age. The opportunity identified in this project is to demonstrate the rail freight planning process on our integrated digital Network Rail Plus Suite (NR+Suite) of products that consists of the NR+ Infrastructure platform (NR+IP), the NR+ integration Services (NR+IS) and the NR+ set of applications (NR+App). The NR+IP consists of a comprehensive and integrated database of UK’s rail network, with all the attributes and constraints that can be queried and viewed on a map, together with the current set of scheduled routes and planned activities. It consists of two powerful and highly-scalable graph databases that are well suited for very large networks and routing problems, real-time analytics and AI. The first databases contains all the data that defines the rail network, its capabilities and constraints. The second contains schedules and line availability information (including Working Time Tables, short term additions, variations or cancellations and planned possessions for engineering works). NR+IP will also contains a history database of executed trips.

The project has the following aims: integrate existing data sources in NI+IP ; complete and validate the data to define the network capabilities; perform live trials with Network Rail and freight operators to validate, improve, and demonstrate the usability and value of the platform and applications; and develop a number of APIs to allow the data in NI+IP to be accessed, utilised and embedded in other 3rd party applications used in the rail industry.

The novelty is in having a unique state-of-the-art, consolidated, easily accessible and maintained digital database of UK’s fragmented rail system and a first set of integrated applications for the safe and efficient planning of freight. If successfully proven during the demonstrator, NR+IP could form the basis for a unique eco-system of integrated applications to generate more efficient, resilient and safer plans and schedules for freight and passenger trains, to better manage disturbances and delays and for dissemination of information.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

University of Hull, United Kingdom £344,353 £ 344,353

Publications

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