Dynamic Responsive Signal Control for Railway Junctions

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Civil Environmental and Geomatic Eng

Abstract

Stations and junctions are vital elements of railway systems, but they are also a major constraint on network capacity. Several new technologies, such as the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) level 3, have been proposed for signal control of tracks between junctions, but as yet no innovative technology has been proposed for junctions and stations. In the current system, signal control officers manually control signals, but they need to consider various factors at every moment. Several stations have adopted the Automatic Route Setting (ARS) system, but major stations with complex operations still rely on manual control of officers because ARS only solves possible future conflicts between trains and does not consider other factors such as operations and optimisation of train operations at the network level.The purpose of this project is to increase the capacity of rail networks by enhancing the control of rail junctions. Its aim is to explore ways in which the capacity of railway junctions can be expanded by developing concepts of dynamic comprehensive responsive control, drawing on techniques used in road traffic management and control applications. The project will also investigate techniques used in other transport industries where the operation is demand-responsive, namely airport operation for landing aircrafts, taxi operation, and emergency vehicle operation.The main objective of the proposed project is to develop a framework for dynamic responsive operation at railway junctions and stations, and control strategies that support the framework. In particular, we will:- Analyse the factors in responsive operations at railway junctions and stations in order to develop a framework for dynamic comprehensive responsive operations - Develop control strategies that support dynamic responsive operations and an algorithm that implement these strategies. - Examine the effects of the new framework and the strategies by simulationThe new framework and strategies do not involve laying additional tracks, which requires the purchase of additional land and additional civil engineering work. Our new framework and strategies can be an economical way of increasing capacity. In addition, the framework and strategies will reduce the recovery time from service disruptions. This helps train operating companies and infrastructure management companies reduce the increase of operation costs caused by service disruptions.

Planned Impact

The proposed project will develop a framework and control strategies for dynamic comprehensive responsive operations, which will expand capacity at railway junctions and stations. The resulting capacity increase will improve journey experience of passengers and thus their quality of life and will support further economic growth of major UK cities. The framework and strategies will also improve the capability of non-timetabled operations and resilience to delays. The main beneficiary of this project is the UK railway industry. The new framework and strategies do not involve laying additional tracks, which requires the purchase of additional land and additional civil engineering work. Our new framework and strategies can be an economical way of increasing capacity. In addition, the system will reduce the recovery time from service disruptions. This helps train operating companies and infrastructure management companies reduce the increase of operation costs caused by service disruptions. The project also initiates further collaboration between the railway industry and those who have not worked with the industry but have the skills and knowledge that can be adopted in the railway environments. In addition to dynamic responsive signalling systems, there are other techniques and technologies that are used in road traffic management but not in the railway industry. For example, reversible lanes can be more strategically used in railway, especially in places where only an odd number of tracks can be laid. We will use a session of the workshop, which will be organised towards the end of the project, to discuss the adoption of other road traffic modelling and management techniques in railway environments. Because the new framework the project proposes will include not only signalling strategies but also suggestions for other operations, such as platform and rolling stock operations, our project leads to the development of a comprehensive dynamic responsive system. We will allocate a session of the workshop to discuss this issue. The involvement of industry partners is a vital part of this project, so that the project takes into account of the strategic views of the railway industry. There will be two levels of involvement. On one level, the research team will, in Phase 1, conduct interviews with people relevant to signal controlling and operations at junctions and stations in order to understand the current practice. This will ensure that the new framework and strategies are implementable. On the other level, we will set up a Project Advisory Committee that will oversee the project and make comments when key decisions are made in the development process of the new framework and strategies. This will ensure that the project will take account of the strategic views of the railway industry and that the project deliverables are implementable and appreciated by industry partners. At the both levels, we will work closely with a project mentor, who will be allocated to the project by the funding bodies. The project advisory committee will include the mentor and other experts recommended by the mentor as well as other project partners. As the deliverables can be used in junctions and stations other than the ones examined in this project, the dissemination of the deliverables is an important part of the project. The research team will attend conferences and meetings to disseminate the results. In addition, towards the end of the project, we will organise an open workshop where we will invite industry partners. The workshop will give an opportunity for us to explain and disseminate the outcomes of the project to those who are not directly involved in this project but may be interested in this project. Furthermore, we will use our MSc Transport course to disseminate the results.

Publications

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Ghasempour T (2020) Adaptive railway traffic control using approximate dynamic programming in Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies

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Ghasempour T (2019) Adaptive Railway Traffic Control using Approximate Dynamic Programming in Transportation Research Procedia

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Ghasempour T (2020) Distributed Approximate Dynamic Control for Traffic Management of Busy Railway Networks in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems

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Goodall R (2013) The Future of Train Control Systems in Proceedings of Institution of Railway Signal Engineers

 
Description This research has shown that good trajectory control of each train, combined with traditional traffic sequence optimisation, would increase the capacity as well as reduce the energy consumption. The concept of trains arriving at right speeds was added to Railway Technical Strategy 2012.
Exploitation Route The industry acknowledged the importance of the research and provided further funding for further investigation
Sectors Transport

URL http://www.sparkrail.org
 
Description This research has shown that good trajectory control of each train, combined with traditional traffic sequence optimisation, would increase the capacity as well as reduce the energy consumption. The concept of "trains arriving at right speeds" was added to Railway Technical Strategy 2012. Because of the success, RSSB decided to fund an extension of the project, which completed in March 2017. Because of the success of this and RSSB projects, now First Group are interested in integrating our algorithm in their C-DAS system, and we will start a new initial project in April 2017. If successful, our algorithm will be used by the train control systems of First Transpennine and Great Western.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description EP/I010734/1
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Impact Railway Technical Strategy 2012 has cited the concept this research created
 
Description EP/I010734/1
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation Network Rail Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2014 
End 07/2014
 
Description EP/I010734/1
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Organisation University College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2013 
End 08/2013
 
Description EP/I010734/1
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I010734/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2013 
End 05/2014
 
Description Future Traffic Regulation and Optimisation
Amount £636,280 (GBP)
Funding ID T1071-1 
Organisation Rail Safety and Standards Board 
Department FutureRailway
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2014 
End 01/2017
 
Description Secondment
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2013 
End 05/2014
 
Description UCL Graduate School
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Organisation University College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2013 
End 08/2013
 
Title EP/I010734/1 
Description Trajectory optimisation model for railway traffic around a junction 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Improving capacity and reduce energy consumption of trains around a junction 
 
Description London Underground 
Organisation Transport for London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Provision of modelling capabilities
Collaborator Contribution Provision of data, knowledge
Impact Creation of EngD projects, MSc projects. There is much more but for commercial reasons we cannot write here.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Network Rail 
Organisation Network Rail Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Provision of outputs, modelling capabilities
Collaborator Contribution Provision of data, knowledge about practice
Impact Influence the research of Network Rail. Secondment
Start Year 2010
 
Description EP/I010734/1 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Workshop on Dynamic Control of Railway Traffic on 19 June 2013. Around 40 people from the industry and academia have attended the workshop. The workshop presented the state of the art about dynamic control and optimisation of railway traffic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013