Engineering, Freight Rail, Passenger Rail, Technology and IT

A dessan for life

Drawing on many years of systems integration experience within signalling technology, Hitachi Information Control Systems Europe (HICSE) has added a new feather to the cap of its dessan Rail product suite. HICSE’s dessan Rail products, developed to improve efficiency, safety and performance, now includes a new integration, dessan Design.

Early scheme plan drawings can be edited and created by clicking and dropping objects from a pre-existing library of signalling components. This allows users to design and edit in real time, significantly speeding up decision making related to stakeholder engagement and design optimisation.

dessan Design has been developed with the principles of intelligent design in mind to make things easier for track designers in the earliest stages of signalling design.

The program can monitor the validity of a track diagram while it is being drawn, while warning icons are able to pop up and alert the user with an error description on the diagram in case there are any issues in the design.

The ability to automatically check for basic errors in this way greatly reduces potential reworking during later design stages. dessan Design also provides several advanced scalability options that allow ongoing development without the need for specialist third-party technology.

“Creating the right environment was essential to ensure easy adoption,” says Denise Watkins, sales manager at HICSE. “The objective was to use the latest technology to design a highly intuitive, userfriendly tool with a modern interface that was simple to deploy globally.”

User experience (UX) was another central tenet of dessan Design’s creation. To understand what was important to users when using the software, Hitachi utilised performance research from UK-based client Network Rail. dessan Design can be used on platforms that use valid Standard Data Exchange Format (SDEF) files, with other data export formats also being available. This allows for deployment across a wide range of users in both the UK and international rail signalling supply chain, helping both rail companies and passengers.

dessan Design has so far received positive feedback from a soft launch at the Railtex exposition in the UK, though it is still too early to provide a full assessment of the potential scope of the product’s integrational impact on the dessan Rail suite as a whole.

HICSE also specialises in high-fidelity simulation which can replicate the signalling infrastructure and operations of any part of the rail network.

“Design decisions and/or errors can be difficult and costly to amend on a live railway. So before committing to or investing in new or altered infrastructure it makes sense to use this type of technology to fully test the integrity of a design in a virtual environment, especially when engineering and operational options are being considered,” says Watkins.

A good example of the effectiveness of dessan Rail software was its use on the major £200 million ($362 million) re-signalling project to improve the railway in and around Derby station, UK. HICSE was engaged by Network Rail to produce a detailed micro simulation model for the planned rail infrastructure using dessan Model.

“Although the station itself was modernised in 2013, the track layout had not been improved for nearly 50 years and the signalling had not been comprehensively upgraded since the 1960s,” Watkins says. “During this time, the number of passengers travelling through Derby has more than doubled.” “It was the biggest investment and improvement program at Derby for decades and now provides better journeys for thousands of passengers every year.”

The project involved the creation of five design options that could be demonstrated to companies in real time (including perturbed operations).

According to Steve Taylor, Network Rail Senior Project Engineer for the remodelling project, this on-the-fly flexibility has proven essential for stakeholder meetings.

“I believe without this simulation tool the Derby remodelling would be fully reliant on simpler and retrospective modelling much later in the design process,” he says. “Therefore, the tool enabled the project to demonstrate to the sponsor value for money much earlier.”

Overall, HICSE has high hopes that dessan Design will bring overall improvements to the efficiency and accuracy of signalling project design, with future scope for automated design and testing. “As rail transport demand continues to expand worldwide, it is increasingly important to boost performance levels,” concludes Watkins.