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Progress update for the eleven winning projects for the Enabling the digital railways Collaborative R&D competition

In 2013, the Technology Strategy Board and RSSB announced investment of up to £5m in collaborative R&D for the Enabling the Digital Railway competition, designed to encourage the use of innovative digital, ICT and satellite application technologies, to address challenges faced by leading rail organisations. In the event, when announced last Autumn more than £8.5m of funding was awarded for 11 collaborative R&D projects.

The projects were due to start in early 2014. A number of the participants are starting to provide updates via their websites and the press.


The eleven winning projects for the Enabling the digital railways Collaborative R&D competition (ordered by funding award)


High speed railway asset mapping system using enhanced 3D imaging and automated visual analytics

The participants in the High speed railway asset mapping system using enhanced 3D imaging and automated visual analytics £1,606,620 budgeted project are Guidance Navigation Limited (lead), a Leicester based positioning technology business; Rail Vision Europe Limited, Castle Donington, Leicestershire, based specialist in developing advanced image analysis and information management solutions for the rail industry;

Oxford Mobile Robotics Group, based at Begbroke Park and known for its RobotCar UK experimental autonomous vehicle research and Network Rail Limited.

The project received £1,120,291 of funding to advance the surveying of railway networks through the development of a novel device capable of high-speed asset monitoring and automated asset identification. It aims to support the work of Network Rail and their sub-contractors who require detailed asset maps of the rail infrastructure.

The project builds on patented IP from Oxford University Mobile Robotics Group. The combination of laser scanning and HD camera hardware and satellite navigation systems are to be used to create a 3D topometric asset map of the rail network, automatically analysed with visual analytics techniques. Trial units will be developed and outputs displayed.

According to Rail Vision, detection of assets on rail tracks is usually carried out manually, and laser based surveys on three dimensional information are expensive and do not provide information on asset identity.

This project hopes to develop a data capture and analysis system that provides information on asset identity, location and its three dimensional information for a range of review purposes to assist maintenance and planning of works. The project will also develop desktop software for review of such data with the ability to make measurements and generate planning reports. The system is expected to be available in 2016.


MultiPass - an integrated multi-interface platform for smart ticketing to provide seamless multi-modal travel and increased revenue collection

The participants of the £1,761,431 budgeted MultiPass project are Tedipay (UK) Limited (lead); ECEBS LIMITED , an East Kilbride-based Smart card technology company; GuestLogix Europe Limited, a Canadian POS and mobile solutions company with a UK office in Bracknell; General Information Systems ltd, a Cambridge-based specialist in Smartcard based products for contact and contactless General Information Systems; Imperial College London and Global Travel Ventures Limited (based in Cheshire).

The MultiPass project is an 18-month, collaborative project, designed to implement a integrated, low-cost multi-protocol smart ticketing and digital ‘uber-wallet’ platform.

Supported by £1,086,325 of funding, MultiPass aims to provide seamless multi-modal travel for passengers and tourists, together with reduced costs and increased revenue collection for transit operators. MultPass will integrate several existing technologies (including ITSO, EMV, NFC, cloud TVM and BLE) into a single end-to-end platform, which will comprise low-cost, easy and cheap to install, station-based hubs, cloud-based server/services and passenger-carried smart cards.

Rail operators (Abellio & Strathclyde Partnership for Transport) will provide access to field trials, stations and end-users and in market advisory roles. Consult Hyperion are engaged as supervisory project managers.

On 19 June 2014 GuestLogix announces a collaboration agreement with the UK’s Technology Strategy Board for the Development of a MultiPass Ticketing , publicly announcing its participation in the MultiPass consortium.

The MultiPass consortium aims to develop a disruptive ticketing platform enabling multimodal “Pay As You Go” travel across the country using a single pass.

GuestLogix will leverage and configure its retail platform, Transaction Processing Engine® (TPE®), Global Payment Gateway™ and GuestPass™ ticketing solutions to work within the MultiPass environment.

“It is with great pleasure that we participate in the development of a multimodal platform and ticketing solution that could very well transform passenger travel across both the UK and the rest of the world,” said GuestLogix President & CEO, Brett Proud. “We are enthusiastic about the positive impact this project rollout will have on passenger travel, and believe that the UK will set a leading example for other countries across the globe.”

GuestLogix said a full rollout of a MultiPass solution is anticipated for 2015, pending the success of the pilot programs.

“This is a very exciting project that could drastically alter the way passengers experience travel across the UK, and we are thrilled to be a part of this collaboration,” said Thomas Drohan, SVP & GM, Global Rail Division, GuestLogix. “With a MultiPass environment in place, travelers will benefit from ease of travel, cost savings and increased efficiency, with no more queuing at ticket counters. Whether a trip involves rail, bus, subway or a combination of the above, the travel journey will become much less stressful and complex.”

The company said the as UK’s rail, bus and subway operators carry over 8 billion passengers per annum, they present a substantial opportunity for GuestLogix to gain market share in the region.

The MultiPassproject was also featured in The Guardian, Saturday 16 November 2013 Sci-fi inspired MultiPass lands on earth - suggested the futuristic all-in-one travel pass that you could use on trains, buses, the tube and even to catch flights, all at the lowest possible price, is the stuff of sci-fi, and tat it will move a step closer to reality when MultiPass is trialled in London and Glasgow next year.

The feature highlights the fact that the project takes its name from a fictional bit of kit featured in the 1997 science fiction movie The Fifth Element starring Bruce Willis.

“In The Fifth Element, directed by Luc Besson and mainly set in the 23rd century, the MultiPass appears to be a hi-tech ID card that is used, among other things, for space travel – in one of the most quoted scenes, a young woman known as Leeloo, played by Milla Jovovich, flashes her pass as she attempts to board a spaceship. The real-life version would be a single nationwide combined ticket and travelcard with an "e-ink" screen similar to those on many e-readers.”

The report states that the consortium plans to run two pilot schemes during the middle of next year – one involving journeys into London, the other in and around Glasgow – ahead of what they hope will be a full rollout in 2015.

The report quotes Jeremy Acklam of London-based company MultiPass, which is leading the consortium, “Because we are managing all these different tickets 'up in the cloud', we can pretty much guarantee to get you the best price. That's the big attraction," he says, adding that one of the reasons for the pilots was to determine customer reaction – "how they like to use it, which bits they find useful". Several hundred people will be recruited for the pilots, some of them existing season ticket holders.


A People Centred Approach to Intelligent, Proactive, Predictive (PCIPP) asset management using Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM) data

Participants in the £1,544,975 budgeted A People Centred Approach to Intelligent, Proactive, Predictive (PCIPP) asset management using Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM) data project are Thales Research & Technology (UK) Limited (lead) the Reading based research, develop, manufacture and supply technology and services company to the UK’s Aerospace, Defence, Security and Transportation sector; Thales Transport and Security Limited; Smart Component Technologies Limited of Huddersfield; Universal Pipe Enterprises Limited t/a Humaware; University of Nottingham; the University of Birmingham School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Chrome Angel Solutions Limited (a Newcastle upon Tyne based technology solutions provider to the Rail and Provided with a project grant of £1,061,044, The PCIPP (A People Centred Approach to Intelligent, Proactive, Predictive asset management) will develop a solution for intelligent asset management that is claimed with go beyond conventional Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM) and existing systems.

PCIPP is designed to eliminate the need for asset managers to maintain multiple vertically integrated RCM systems, reduce user training needs by providing a common interface for all assets and unlock the potential of true intelligence by fusing and correlating data across multiple assets and legacy systems to create actionable, prognostic information.

PCIPP builds on Thales’s solution it provides to Network Rail in their Intelligent Infrastructure programme, which monitors over 22,000 assets and has removed the need for 15,000 site visits since it went live in 2009.

PCIPP is structured around a human-centric design process so that operators have access to relevant information. PCIPP’s open architecture is designed to enable an ecosystem to develop that will expand the range of assets covered; to incorporate train, track and station data; integrated with maintenance systems; to substantially increase diagnosis and prognosis capabilities and to nurture a new market for the incorporation of third-party analytics modules.

No further information on progress has been published since the project kicked-off last July Network Rail’s Intelligent Infrastructure programme, which incorporates an Intelligent Infrastructure Management (IIM) system for remote conditioning monitoring from Thales UK, was recognised as Project of the Year in the Real IT Awards. The project was also selected as winner in the Innovation in Technology category.

It was also recognised as  ‘Highly Commended’ in The National Rail Awards in September 2013 Described as ‘game changing’ in leading industry standards. The programme’s ‘Predict and Prevent‘ nationwide approach, which now monitors over 25,000 assets on a nationwide basis, has directly resulted in an estimated reduction of 450,000 delay minutes - improving service for the travelling public and freight operators.


The station of the future: Providing an integrated passenger and consumer experience

Participants in the two-year, £1,932,468 budgeted The station of the future: Providing an integrated passenger and consumer experience project are: CISCO Systems Limited (lead); Telent Technology Services Limited; Workware Systems Limited - a Belfast based Real Time Data Analytics of unstructured and structured data (aka Big Data) company; and Abellio Transport Holdings Limited - a provide of Bus Services for London and Surrey.

Provided with a proposed project grant of £986,076, the project intends to deliver 21st Century station facilities, by providing connectivity suited for four types of groups: security providers, operators, retailers and travellers.

It will create a single, IP infrastructure to develop and test an architecture called Stations as a Service (StaaS). exploitable.

The project will be open and allow other UK SMEs to innovate on the StaaS platform ensuring the reference architecture is extensible.

According to telent the project will involve a demonstration at a station to show technical feasibility, as well as a wide range of associated benefits.

As part of its involvement, Cisco recently organised our first large workshop about the Stations as a Service (StaaS) project - Future Railway Stations: From vision to delivery, May 27, 2014 . Some 80 attendees from the rail industry came together to discuss the future of railway stations, including Network Rail, train operating companies, government officials, technology and telecoms providers, security providers and transport specialists from academia and the press.

In the blog post by Ersel Oymak, Innovation Technology Manager, Cisco CREATE, that the technology development and planning for StaaS was described as taking a few years before it officially started the project. And in order to get all relevant parties on board – funders, stakeholders, industry partners – it had a lot of convincing to do. “After all, the decision for companies to partner up and to invest significant amounts of time and effort into a disruptive proof-of-concept has to be properly weighed. And the innovation isn’t just on the technological side – it also means that business processes will have to be done differently. In one of the industries most resilient to change, that takes a lot of determination, from everyone.”

Cisco will start running the proof of concepts in three UK railway stations. The demos of StaaS will go live next year at three stations on the same line: Ingatestone, Colchester and Liverpool Street Station in London.

“Thomas Edison once said, “Vision without execution is hallucination”. As our recent workshop showed, communication, collaboration and planning are crucial steps on the way to delivering our vision for future railway stations. That way, when it’s deployed, we are optimistic that the new technology will fit the stations just fine. Fingers crossed.”


Drone train

Participant is the £1,225,006 budgeted Drone train project are: Balfour Beatty Rail Limited (lead); Zircon Software Limited based in Trowbridge, Wiltshire; Nomad Digital Limited - a Newcastle upon Tyne & London based provider of wireless solutions to the transportation sector; University of Huddersfield; Heriot-Watt University; and Newcastle University.

This £790,150 supported project intends to demonstrate a solution which takes close to realtime train measurement to ‘the cloud’ and (in parallel) remotely manage trains (while hauled by a manned traction unit).

In other words, the train operator can be in any remote centre. One operator team can then manage many measurement vehicles around the world.

In the project, data quality from unmanned vehicles will be improved, crew costs reduced and data access improved. Analysis will be carried out in the cloud. Fault reports, statistics and alerts are taken from the cloud by users with mobile apps or office systems. More than one display tool can use the data, and the users can be anywhere in the world; in an office or on the line side.

As well as improving the efficiency of the railways, drone train has the potential to change how this technology is delivered and allow access to the technology for smaller organisations such as tram and light rail infrastructure operators.

It’s also envisaged that the resulting dataset produced by the project will stimulate future systems and products from both within and outside the consortium.


Intelligent Rail Defect Detection and Reporting in Real-time via Electromagnetics (i-R3D2)

Participants in the £1,254,568 budgeted Intelligent Rail Defect Detection and Reporting in Real-time via Electromagnetics (i-R3D2) project are: Avonwood Developments Limited (lead) - based in Wimborne, Dorset, that was previously a participant in the Previous Technology Strategy Board funded rail project i-RAM - Intelligent Returnable Asset Management  from June 2010 to May 2012; Avanti Communications Limited the London-based broadband satellite operator; and University of Birmingham.

Rail flaw detection is important for the safe and reliable operation of rail networks. The £787,535 supported Intelligent Rail Defect Detection and Reporting in Real-time via Electromagnetics (i-R3D2) project aims to develop an integrated rail defect detection system capable of complementing existing techniques.

The project will employ advanced data management and predictive analytics to provide rail maintenance personnel with timely rail defect information. to enhance rail maintenance effectiveness, as well as improve efficiency and safety.

According to project lead Avonwood, the i-R3D2 project aims to research and provide a rail defect detection system with a form factor suitable for mounting on passenger trains.


Digitally Enabling Electrification

Participants in the £1,120,785 budgeted project Digitally Enabling Electrification are Laing O'Rourke plc (lead - a major UK civil engineering enterprise and manufacturer); WS Atkins Plc - a consulting firm; Imperial College London - leading on surveying technology and data integration; and DHP11 Limited - an Overlees, near Dronfield, based software developer for infrastructure and utility organisations.

The aim of the £676,837 supportedDigitally enabled electrification project is to develop an integrated digital electrification delivery solution for Overhead Line Equipment (OLE). It will do this by analysing and streamlining current practice and requirements for the data exchange interfaces and process involved. This promotes the government’s £310bn infrastructure plan, Construction Strategy for the use of Level 2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) by 2016, intelligent asset management as identified in the Rail Technology Strategy (RTS) and the 'asset themes' within the Network Rail Technical Strategy (NRTS).

The project will establish and map the survey, design, manufacture and on-site assembly, and delivery processes, and enable integration of each from the currently fragmented sub-processes.

Digital models can then be used to inform decisions, reduce design and construction risk and, once commissioned, enable effective asset management of the OLE elements and also the related civil engineering, power supply and programme management.


Rail incident manager

Datasys Limited, a Manchester based developer of rail incident management software, is leading the £882,447 budgetedRail incident managerproject, in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (a multi-disciplinary team of evaluators, economists, sociologists and criminologists); and First Greater Western Limited.

A proposed project grant of £618,215 is supporting the project to enable passengers to report issues associated with railway networks, as well as a means of receiving automatic updates about their journey, and a means for rail staff to record and report issues in real time.

According the project proposal, a lack of information and its timely communication in particular remain universal themes in passenger satisfaction surveys. This it mainly attributes to the mechanisms for the recording and reporting of incident and quality information by rail personnel, with no current system allowing for the capture of information from mobile devices, limiting the ability to supply real-time information.

The project consortium aims to develop a novel rail incident management technology, based around two applications for use in mobile devices. The first application will be designed as an interface for the passenger, enabling them to report any issues associated with the railway network, as well as a means of receiving automatic updates about their journey. The second application will be designed for rail staff to record and report any service/safety critical/quality issues in real time.


Asset Monitoring Platform (AMP)

Omnicom Engineering Limited, a York-based developer of hardware and software to the transportation sector, is leading the £805,316 budgeted Asset Monitoring Platform (AMP) project to deliver a web-based diagnostic platform for railway infrastructure asset monitoring, and improved forecasting of track condition based on the use of track geometry data.

Omnicom Engineering previously collaborated in the Technology Strategy Board £415,259 funded project running from August 2012 to January 2014 Digital Imaging for Condition Asset Management (DIFCAM).

Other participanting in the Asset Monitoring Platform (AMP) are Cybula Limited, a software and hardware for searching Signals, Images and Text. Cybula Ltd was founded in 2000 by Professor Jim Austin to develop commercial applications for research in high performance pattern matching undertaken at the University of York. Cybula Ltd works in close partnership with the Advanced Computer Architecture Group in the Department of Computer Science at the University.

Cybula is housed in the IT centre in York, a specially built data enabled accommodation close to the University.

Cybula has participated in 13 EPSRC or Technology Strategy Board contracts including the projects Monitoring Complex Assets using Patterns in Signal data (MCAPS) and Condition Monitoring on a Cloud (CMAC).

Also participating are University of Huddersfield - that also had successful funding bids in 2013 of a Steering Wheel Motor for Light Rail Vehicles - and the University Of York’s Railway Asset Monitoring Platform being conducted by its Department of Computer Science.

A Proposed project grant of £564,582 is supporting the project that aims to address operational down time by driving proactive maintenance due to a silo approach to data management, generation of large data sets rather than information and limited prognostic analytical tools.

This proposal will combine recently available computing technologies to deliver a web-based portal within which software written in any computing language for any operating system can be run as a service. According to the proposal, web portal technologies have been available for some time, but newly available levels of flexibility will allow users access to a range of current, legacy and in-development services at relatively low cost, allowing for rapid evaluation and adoption of technology.

The proposed project consists of two key elements: 1) Development of a web-based, diagnostic platform for railway infrastructure asset monitoring, and 2) A demonstrator showing how the asset monitoring platform (AMP) can be used to improve the forecasting of track condition based on the use of track geometry data.


Health and prognostic assessment of railway assets for predictive maintenance

Warwick-based Telent Technology Services Limited is leading the Health and prognostic assessment of railway assets for predictive maintenance project, that has a proposed budget of £725,189 to provide reliable health assessments of railways assets, manage asset degradation and undertake maintenance intervention in advance of failure.

Working with London Underground,Universal Pipe Enterprises Limited t/a Humaware, University of Nottingham and Loughborough University the £473,772 funded project focusses on the “Health and Prognostic Assessment of Railway Assets for Predictive Maintenance”.

The project will provide an open architecture system that integrates data from a number of sources. Condition indicators will be derived from Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM) data, based on detection of defects and trends to develop an automated approach to introducing prognostics assessment via a risk-based Remaining Useful Life (RUL).

This approach is claimed will significantly improve on current state detection methods which are based on simple thresholds. The technology developed will assess the RUL via a dynamic scheduler to determine the optimum maintenance period in order to minimise the risk of failure to the asset and maximise its availability.

According to Telent the technology developed will assess Remaining Useful Life (RUL) via a dynamic scheduler to determine the optimum maintenance period, and so minimise risks of failure of the asset and maximise availability.

The project will also address the process re-engineering and the human factors arising from moving from a schedule and demand based maintenance management regime to a forecasting approach where static schedules and depth of maintenance regimes are replaced with dynamic processes.

It is anticipated that the end product will help London Underground in delivering reduced Lost Customer Hours and offer export opportunities for similar savings with other mass transit and rail operators.

Humaware has worked with a range of organisations including the UK Ministry of Defence, the US Army, as well as industrial applications in the rail, marine and petrol/chemical sectors to support them in developing their RCM and IVHM capabilities.

Ken Pipe, the Managing Director, has been instrumental in the development of Condition Monitoring technology and systems for over 30 years.


i-TRACS (Internet-based Train and Railway Applications Collaboration System)

The i-TRACS project with a project costed at £733,950, invles the development of a number of ‘apps’ for improved operations and customer service for train operating companies and freight operating companies. Supported by a project grant of £430,308 for the period of January 2014 to June 2015 the project is led by Liverpool based Aimes Grid Services Community Interest Company.

The largely Liverpool base project also involves Containerport Limited; Glow New Media Limited as well as London-based Placr Limited and BT PLC.

The i-TRACS project will build a new and innovative three-tier demonstrator for the rail industry in which strategic data sets will be ingested into an open-access and interoperable platform, upon which a number of ‘apps’ will be created to improve both the operations and customer service for train operating companies and freight operating companies.

The project is expected to demonstrate the concept of a digital ‘ecosystem’ in which value will be created by a community of app developers using a range of data sources and hosted on a resilient and cost-effective platform.

The initial use cases will be in container freight transport, passenger transport and transport service analytics. The project will be carried out in Liverpool in collaboration with Freightliner Ltd and with Merseyrail Ltd.

The data layer will include GPS data from hauliers and container consignment data from shipping lines, real-time train location data from Network Rail and passenger location data in the form of off-call mobile data from INRIX. The interoperable information platform will be provided by BT, based upon their Information Spine technology, and the project will be hosted at the AIMES ISO 27001 data centre campus at Liverpool Innovation Park.

Applications will be developed by the consortium partners who include Containerport Ltd, Glow New Media Ltd and Placr Ltd, to optimise inter-model container operations, provide improved end-to-end journey information to passengers and create analytics services for rail operating companies.

According to Aimes, the assets utilised include public transport travel data from Placr via their Transport.api service and sentiment analysis using date form Twitter and Facebook. Freight transport data will be provided by Containerport and will include feeds from the major shipping lines, including Hamburg Sud, and from freight haulage companies.

The i-TRACS project will be physically located at the Rail Industry Transport Demonstrator Facility at AIMES and the hub will be hosted in the G-Cloud accredited, next generation cloud campus in Liverpool. Partners responsible for deploying the information hub include AIMES and BT Research who both have experience in creating commercial-scale transport platforms with open APIs.

AIMES previously created an interoperable information hub as part of the TSB funded Fibrenet demonstrator ( using open, RESTful services. BT has set up an open platform for global supply chains based upon their Smart Communities Spine technology. The project will also work with other “Enabling the Digital Railway” Projects to create a ‘Federated Information Hub’ model and will work with the EU funded FI-PPP programme and the ESA funded Freight Optimisation project.



2 people have had something to say so far

A really good summary with supporting references and links. Since launch, one or two projects have had minor changes to consortium members - London Underground has stepped into the PCIPP project in place of Universal Pipe Enterprises Limited t/a Humaware; Abellio has stepped into Rail Incident Manager project in place First Great Western Holdings; and unfortunately the consortium behind the Drone Train project has decided not to progress the project.
Posted on 04/09/14 23:47.
OK, thanks Andrew - and if you also have references to any of those updates I could amend the article above.

Posted on 18/09/14 12:11.

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