Innovative pilot to test real-time information

Kevin Hollingworth, Nomad Digital’s Head of R&D, explains how the company has supported the development of real-time train location data sources that can be aggregated to provide the most accurate train positioning at any given time. This best location data is then provided in a way that can be consumed by a variety of systems. Nomad is working with operator FirstGroup and Airbus on an innovative pilot to provide a real-time GPS train locator, called ‘GPS Gateway’.

Talking of the project Kevin explains:

We have found the experience both informative and collaborative and our view is that the benefits are numerous - to give operators greater confidence of a train’s location which leads to improved passenger information, and to enable greater efficiency of fleets.

Innovative pilot to test real-time information image

The background to this project is that RSSB initiated a competition ‘TOC 15’, which challenged train operators and suppliers to work together to develop new and innovative ways to improve performance and reliability on the railway, while also improving the passenger experience. The trial ran for a month on a FirstGroup fleet, however the solution will be left in place for 12 months providing the opportunity to create a database of historical GPS data, for analysis and reporting purposes.

Currently, train location data already exists on a large number of trains. However, this pilot selects the best location source at any given time which is then accessible to end-user systems. The data has the potential to support passenger apps, operator communications and third-party content as it will be available in a common format.

Nomad’s connectivity solution provides the infrastructure over which the GPS data feeds can be transmitted and works both independently and in conjunction with the current operator’s solution to determine the most relevant GPS feed where there are multiple GPS devices on a single train.

Improved explanation of reasons for journey disruption and real-time evidence of location and next-stop distance will ensure passengers have a better understanding of how disruptions affect their journey and what is being done to mitigate them. This is invaluable to train operators.

Real-time GPS location allows control staff to know exactly where the train is, while visibility of exact location of services allows operators to manage and resume normal timetabling quickly. The data provided also allows operators’ maintenance and engineering teams to see where the train routinely speeds up and slows down on the track, which can feed into driver advisory strategies and also more efficient route planning.

The precise pilot findings should start to materialise soon, with research and outcomes to be shared with the industry.

Partners –

Airbus Defence and Space
The Geo-Intelligence programme line of Airbus Defence and Space is a recognized world leader in geo-information, successfully pooling an unmatched access to Earth observation satellite imagery with a unique expertise and decades of experience in one single operational organisation. The extensive portfolio spans the entire geo-information value chain, providing decision makers with sustainable solutions to increase security, protect the environment and better manage natural resources in our changing World.

The programme line “Geo-Intelligence” is part of the “Communication, Intelligence & Security” business line of Airbus Defence and Space, a division of the Airbus Group (formerly EADS).

FirstGroup are a leading rail transport operator with a strong track record of delivery, and the owner of the Great Western Railway franchise, Transpennine Express and Hull trains. FirstGroup’s role will be project lead and provision of project management to the overall project. First are dedicated to improving the customer experience and intend to use this trial to demonstrate the benefits to customers by having more accurate train location information.

TTG – supplier
TTG Transportation Technology is a leading international provider of rail technology and consulting services to optimise the performance and efficiency of rail operations – trains, schedules and network capacity. FirstGroup will use the on-board Energymiser® a real-time Driver Advisory System (DAS) provided by TTG as a data source for real time GPS data on a number of FirstGroup operated fleets.