The East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP) has been heralded as the “flagship digital programme” for Network Rail’s Control Period 6 (CP6), modelling a new way for industry investment and growth. It is the first step of the digital network strategy and long-term deployment plan, projecting strong growth for future opportunities across the UK rail industry and creating a dynamic railway fit for the future.
The ECDP is, at its heart, an industry and supplier partnership model, an industry endorsed preferred option that is governed by an Industry Steering Board. It presents a strong business case and provides a complete transition to in-cab signalling on ECML South. You can learn more about the development of the ECDP in action over on Network Rail’s YouTube channel here.
Delivering a digital railway is fundamentally about changing how the railway is operated and maintained. It is about showcasing the sustained benefits it will provide to customers, stakeholders and funders, and reveals how a new operating reality can be underpinned by world standard technologies for in-cab train control and traffic management.
The application of a digital railway takes a conventional railway from one that is discontinuous, proprietary and fixed, to the worse case scenarios with intermittent safety provision. It transforms it to a railway that is continuous and interoperable, enabling each train to run to its capability in turn maximising the safety of the railway.
Technologically speaking, this in itself is not a major leap forward. In fact, this was first conceptualised in 1989 and has been tried and tested many times with several successful implementations across Europe.
However, it enables a complete change of principle in the ways in which we work. It is these initial changes in how we work that are a direct result of the introduction of these digital technologies. These could present a number of challenges for the rail industry, if underestimated and not considered adequately from the outset.
Here at 3Squared, we are involved with the European Train Control System (ETCS) in mainland Europe, supporting operators and standards teams as they transition drivers, crew and ground staff into new ways of working.
We are helping to support this transition through our tools including RailSmart EDS. This enables us to support a wide range of organisations to manage change, create, identify training needs and schedule a blend of classroom-based learning, assessments and any number of interactions.
In addition to the above, we also lend our support through our RailSmart Virtual Academy platform; a learning management system (LMS) that is used to deliver eLearning courses, virtual instructor led training and micro simulation. The RailSmart Virtual Academy also delivers a blended learning experience that adapts to the training needs of today’s busy, time sensitive organisations where resources are tight.
We also provide micro simulation tools, such as the ETCS DMI Simulator. This tool is currently free to download in the Apple App Store, and is used by organisations such as LNER to familiarise their drivers with the ETCS in cab DMI.
In order for all of the above transitions to be successful, industry stakeholders, who have different needs and requirements, must be accommodated and robust business changes effectively implemented by digital tools. All going well, these can combine to help the rail sector transition from the current ‘as-is’ to the new ‘to-be’, certainly making for an exciting space in which to operate.