Project Description

Our client is responsible for the operation and maintenance of London’s underground rail network. As part of a project to upgrade one of these underground lines our client was investigating the possibility of implementing an Automatic Train Regulation (ATR) facility, to be provided by a third party supplier.

ATR aims to provide passengers waiting at platforms with a regularly spaced service. This is achieved by allowing trains to vary their speed and the length of time spent dwelling at platforms, within a defined margin, so that each train arrives and departs at regular intervals without bunching up or spreading too far out.

In order to test the possibility of utilising an ATR facility our client had planned to use a Total Systems Simulator (TSS) that had been fed a complete data model of the lines timetable. Unfortunately for our client, the timetable data available at the time of the project did not cater for the requirements necessary to allow ATR to function.

Zircon were engaged by the client to develop a new timetable that would achieve the 33 Trains Per Hour (Tph) target desired by our client, whilst offering the required flexibility to allow ATR to regulate the service.

The solution proposed by Zircon involved taking an existing 33Tph timetable and modifying it in such a way that it would still be capable of achieving 33Tph, whilst coasting would be removed and the length of time spent dwelling at stations would be maximised.

Zircon designed a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet application that made use of VBA macros to read in the existing XML timetable data and place it into worksheets, where the coasting level and arrival time values would be modified in order to remove coasting. This modified data would then presented in a new worksheet. In addition to modifying the existing timetable data, the macros were used to verify and validate the new timesheet by drawing up charts to graphically represent the effect of any changes to arrival and departure times.

Once the timetable data had been successfully modified it was written out into a new XML file ready to be tested by the TSS system.