Project Description

Our client had been invited to participate in a national deployment and implementation design study for Automatic Train Operation (ATO) systems. The organisers of the study had asked our client to demonstrate the successful integration of ATO with the European Train Control System (ETCS).

As part of changes to the mainline in London it is planned that over 24 trains will run under central London every hour. To make this possible an ATO system will run each train through the system to decide the optimal working manner, whilst the ETCS will ensure that the trains do not get too close together and will prevent them from moving too fast. Our client has used similar technologies on mass transit for several decades, but the use of ATO and ETCS in such an application was a new concept.

There were several challenging aspects to this project, for example there were no standards in place for ATO on the mainline railway, and the existing interface required translation to allow the ATO to talk to the ETCS. The client was going to attempt something completely new which would require a lot of work, and with a tight timeframe of only seven weeks it was evident that additional help would be required.

At the time of the project the client did not have access to the necessary resources in house at such short notice, and contacted Zircon just 24 hours before the invitation to tender response was required to be submitted. After discussing some potential solutions and their feasibility, Zircon was confident that we could achieve what the client required and put together a team to make an immediate start on getting operational sub-systems working in a simulated environment.

Thanks to the assistance provided by Zircon’s engineers our client was one of the three suppliers that were successful in acquiring a contract from the study organiser to further optimise the discussed technologies.