Supporting Digital Railway with Operational Test Scenarios

OTS Team at the simulator

Left to right: John Alexander (Network Rail), David Plummer (Arcadis), Anne Jokiranta (Ramboll), James Collett (DEG Signal) and Kevin Nelis (Arcadis) standing in front of the simulator.

// Digital Railway

DEG Signal is delighted to be working on this high-profile project. With Digital Railway and European Train Control Systems (ETCS) being the future of railway operation, DEG Signal has once again been chosen to be involved at the forefront of signalling within the UK.

Working with our partners Ramboll who are supporting Arcadis, Programme Delivery Partner (Systems), one of DEG Signal’s trainee signalling designers, James Collett is currently helping deliver the Operational Test Scenarios (OTS) to Network Rail’s Digital Railway programme.


// Teamwork

Based on site at Network Rail offices at Enterprise House, Paddington, James is on his most important assignment to date. He is working within a team of four engineers writing the Operational Test Scenarios. This has meant attending meetings with people who are very experienced in ETCS, taking down notes and gaining knowledge of ETCS in order to be able to put together the scenarios that are supplied to Digital Rail. James explains the process for putting together the scenarios:

“Working in a pair, we work through each topic one after the other. One of us would carry out the Excel work whilst the other would work on the Visio presentations. Excel was used to fill out the written part of the OTS and Visio to draw a layout and sequence diagram.

“All 3 parts combining to complete the OTS, which needs to be clear so the testers can easily understand the test that needs to take place.

“We didn’t have a site visit as such, due to the fact that ETCS isn’t widely rolled out in the UK yet. However, I did get a chance to try out a full, in cab train simulator which was based on ETCS Level 3.

“Once the first draft was completed we would check each other’s work separately and then discuss any issues/ changes we felt would need to be made.

“Once happy we would check the other pair’s topic and they would check ours. This was important as different ideas and understandings were taken from the development meetings so they could be discussed too. It also meant that all 4 of us were happy about what work had been done and that all work was consistent.”


// Driving the train simulator

Whilst on-site James has also been exposed to other elements of Network Rail’s forward thinking Digital Railway. In his first few days at the office he was given the opportunity to drive the train simulator and experience the different things happening on the Driver Machine Interface (DMI).

James remarked: “It really helped me understand ETCS fully, by seeing it working in action.”


// In cab information

James explains, “Network Rail’s Digital Railway, is about trying to have most of the information which the driver needs to drive the train, in the cab. This is a totally new way of working in comparison to traditional signalling. Eventually, the goal is for the railway to have no signals at all. I had very little knowledge of ETCS and ERTMS when I started this project. Now I have a good understanding of the basics and even an understanding in some of the more complex areas.”


// The Digital Revolution

Being involved with this project is important for DEG Signal, as it enables us to get first-hand experience of the shift in railway signalling. This enables us to be on the front foot and thanks to James, pass on his learnings to the rest of the team back at Aspect House in Warminster.


// Links