A new operational system has been introduced by Network Rail in south Wales, as one of the first digital railway initiatives goes live. The traffic management system helps operators manage the timetable, reducing disruption and delays for passengers.

The system went live at the beginning of the year and is already showing real results with more than 300 trains a day aided by the technology. The Thales ARAMIS system provides real time enhanced data to operators, flagging potential conflicts and helping train running controllers proactively manage services.

The system minimises the knock-on delays that can cause widespread disruption after an incident, enabling visualisation of the impact and allowing real time re-planning so that services can return to normal quickly.

The implementation in Wales is an Operational Decision Support Tool (ODST), which is an isolated system, helping operators manually intervene and make informed decisions, rather than being directly linked to the signalling control systems.

Andy Jones, digital initiation director at Network Rail, said: “This is the start of a very exciting journey. We’ve learned that the best way to work is to deploy the base system, allow operators to become familiar, and then build the system in incremental steps, understanding early learnings as it evolves and develops, so we can achieve the maximum benefits for customers. The system is already delivering real results for passengers and is an example of exceptional collaborative working between the Wales route, Thales, IP Signalling and the digital railway programme.”

Bill Kelly, route managing director for Network Rail in Wales and Borders, said: “We understand that delays are frustrating for passengers and unplanned disruption can have a real impact on people’s daily lives.

“When incidents do occur, getting the service back to normal as quickly and safely as possible for passengers is a top priority. The traffic management system supports our people in doing this, by equipping them with real-time information to help them manage trains effectively and reduce any knock-on delays.”

Shaun Jones, VP, Ground Transportation Systems, Thales, commented: “Our collaborative work with the Network Rail Digital Railway and Network Rail team has enabled the successful implementation of the new Thales ARAMIS Traffic Management System in Wales. Now live, this system is supporting the operators in decision making that will lead to improvement in service. We look forward to continuing our joint efforts to ensure this solution improves performance for both passenger and freight customers.”

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Notes to editors

Traffic management is currently operating across south and west Wales:

  • from Bristol Patchway through the Severn Tunnel and along the South Wales Main Line through Newport, Cardiff and Swansea to Pembroke Dock, Fishguard and Milford;
  • the lines branching to Ebbw Vale and the Valleys area both north and south of Cardiff to Barry, Merthyr, Radyr, Aberdare and Rhymney;
  • the Marches Line to Little Mill.

A similar deployment of the Thales ARAMIS system is being introduced in the Anglia route between Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness. This will be fully operational in the spring and controlled from the Upminster signalling centre.