Digitalisation of National Rail Infrastructure – A Case Study
First Published by Cisco.com
Network Rail owns and manages much of the United Kingdom’s rail infrastructure. This includes 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels, viaducts, and thousands of signals, level crossings, and stations. It manages 20 of the United Kingdom’s largest stations.
The task for Network Rail is to operate, maintain, and upgrade this huge, critical estate of national infrastructure. It must do so in a way that maximises investment value and minimises disruption, working quickly to adapt to changing travel habits.
Network Rail’s Train and Station Innovation for Performance (TSIP) initiative is trialing technology solutions aimed at delivering demonstrable, quantifiable benefits and outcomes for the rail network. The business challenges/use cases will be grouped under four pillars: better passenger experience, enhanced safety and security, improved performance, and operational resilience.
With an undertaking of this size, the challenge is to prioritise the use cases and then roll out solutions accordingly.
“We’d like better intelligence built into the infrastructure in order to allow us to make more timely and informed decisions,” says Simon Atterwell, managing director, Network Rail Telecom, Network Rail. “We want to develop a well-qualified business and use a case-led approach to real issues affecting the railway experience.”
“This data-led approach requires some fundamental building blocks,” he continues. Network Rail needs to gather, send, and store data from across its operations, and then apply data science to produce actionable insight.
Sharing insight to inform decision making
Technology is a key enabler in the transformation of U.K. rail. As part of TSIP, Cisco is collaborating not just with Network Rail Telecom but with industry leaders such as Intel, Telent, and Purple Transformation Group. Together, these partnerships are helping turn ideas into transformative solutions. Cisco Customer Experience (CX) is leading the TSIP program, working with the innovation partners and providing project management and technical advisory services to Network Rail.
“Identifying, selecting, and building the right partnerships is hugely important,” says Atterwell. “Our partners have demonstrated a commitment to solving everyday issues affecting the rail network. They understand how to apply the technology and services to address commercial outcomes.”
Cisco, Intel, Telent, and Purple Transformation Group each address key technology pain points. Together, they deliver the necessary connectivity and compute power while helping plan the practical impact of the transformation opportunity.
Telent, which has had a 30-year relationship with Network Rail, is tasked with structuring the engagement.
“Our role is to understand the Network Rail vision, wear the high-visibility vests and safety boots, and collaborate with other partners. The goal is to bring Cisco concepts, systems, designs, and engineering into operation on the ground,” says Kevin Bonnano, director of rail, Telent.
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