On time in real time – passenger rail operators choose Trapeze’s DAS

Published May 29, 2024 in Blog

Every day, Trapeze Rail’s Driving Advice System (DAS) helps to move hundreds of thousands of passengers around Europe’s rail networks.

Our solution delivers traffic management optimisation for some of that region’s leading passenger operators. It is used by the French state operator SNCF’s entire fleet, as well as ScotRail, Greater Anglia, GWR, EMR, CrossCountry, Grand Central Rail, and Chiltern Railways in the UK.

When Arriva UK Trains adopted Trapeze’s DAS the Chief Operating Officer at that time, Steve Murphy, described the technology as “a major investment that will support our drivers every day out on the UK’s rail network. It will provide them with the information they need to help maximise train performance for our customers.”

Trapeze’s DAS is a tool these operators use to maximise passenger train performance. It plays a key role in determining the optimal way to complete a scheduled trip so trains arrive on time, improving operational efficiency with a focus on punctuality and reliability performance.

Train performance research in action

To understand how Trapeze contributes to operators achieving their performance metrics, let’s begin by considering the technology.

All Driving Advice Systems offer operational guidance to train drivers, but the principles behind them vary considerably. Our DAS system’s patented Energymiser algorithm uses the optimal speed profile methodology, which is recognised as the most effective because it considers a larger set of variables than the more basic concepts. This was verified when our solution outperformed three other providers in a client’s real-world trial.

The mathematics underpinning our DAS were developed through 30 years of ongoing train performance research at the University of South Australia. These calculations allow for key factors including timetable, track geometry, train characteristics, speed profile, and train position.

The complexity powering this software contrasts with the deliberate simplicity of the driver’s in-cab prompts: power, hold speed, coast, or brake.

One system, many benefits

Drivers applying the on-screen advice help each train achieve its optimal run and are more likely to arrive on time. The benefits of this real-time guidance start within the cab and are felt right across the network:

    • SPAD reductions: DAS considers timetable changes and temporary speed restrictions, updating advice that keeps trains on schedule and contributes to preventing SPADS. 
    • Network capacity: improving on-time running at junctions and timing points boosts network capacity, enabling operators to provide better passenger services and achieve greater profitability. 
    • Route knowledge: route information is displayed on the DAS screen, from gradient curves and upcoming stations to distance markers and level crossings. It also shows critical information in the driver’s line of sight, capturing signals and speed restrictions. This improves timetable compliance by reducing the risk of human error.  
    • Passenger experience: sitting on a stationary train at a red signal is a major source of passenger frustration. While many delays are beyond the driver’s control, DAS advice helps streamline network flow by arriving on time at stations and other timing points. 
    • Delay recovery: unplanned incidents are a regular occurrence on rail networks. DAS assists drivers with making up lost time safely through adjustments to the optimal journey profile. 
    • Infrastructure menus: drivers can log infrastructure issues in real-time on pre-configured drop-down menus. This is faster for drivers and creates a more accurate location record, so maintenance crews can reduce future delays by rectifying trackside issues sooner. 
    • Flexible activation: passenger services have tight departure timing requirements. Configuring automated DAS activation at the start of trips saves time for drivers as they don’t need to enter data manually.  
    • Asset maintenance: the DAS advice minimises acceleration and braking, reducing wear and tear on parts including brake blocks. More predictable maintenance means rolling stock is available to meet timetable requirements. 
    • Systems resilience: if other systems fail DAS continues to provide an alternative view of how trains are performing to schedule, maintaining a record of the day and the locations of trains. 

Connected DAS and the synchronised network

So far, we have considered the performance benefits created by standalone DAS. Now let’s build enhanced connectivity onto this DAS platform with Connected DAS (C-DAS).

C-DAS enables trains to communicate with one another in real time via the Traffic Management System or other external system. The entire network is managed to ensure conditions, conflicts, or adjustments are applied to every train through updated driving advice. The solution responds proactively to congestion, temporary speed restrictions, or other potential hazards which supports operational efficiency.

This might sound futuristic, yet the technology is well advanced and provides a comprehensive set of benefits that enhance efficiency, safety, cost-effectiveness, passenger experience and decarbonisation. Trapeze has engaged in extensive trials along live UK routes, and C-DAS is frequently specified as a mandatory tender requirement for new rolling stock orders.

Junction Scheduler for key locations

Junction Scheduler is a C-DAS module that optimises the flow of trains through junctions. With this component, opportunities for moving large amounts of traffic through key locations become much more sophisticated.

This technology constantly re-plans connected train movements at a junction or series of junctions, resolving conflicts in real-time. Each train is monitored automatically to determine its achievable arrival time, ensuring trains pass critical points with minimal delays. Junction occupancy intervals are allocated to ensure trains are spaced with appropriate headways, then revised arrival times are calculated and in-cab driving advice is updated.

When Junction Scheduler was tested at a busy location close to London’s Heathrow Airport, the data showed that as many as 75% of delays could be avoided using this technology. When applied at scale this presents new possibilities for increased network capacity.

MyDAS for drivers

To support drivers using the system, Trapeze created MyDAS. This provides detailed reports and insights into completed journeys so drivers can improve on time performance by understanding their own DAS data. The data can be provided at a corridor specific level, for an entire driver cohort, or for individuals.

These personalised driving reports are shared in an easily accessible web application, where staff view statistics including timing at scheduled stops, total trip times, and speed limit compliance. They can learn by comparing information against other routes or previous trips.

MyDAS gives drivers the data to make more accurate and consistent driving decisions on upcoming trips. This reinforces timetable compliance and encourages good driving behaviour and overall driving pattern harmonisation across entire teams.

Get in touch 

Trapeze’s DAS is trusted by rail operators to help passengers arrive on time, while the synchronised train movements enabled by C-DAS showcase the future of passenger rail optimisation.

Could your organisation benefit from this proven technology? If your priorities include decarbonisation and fuel efficiency, DAS makes a major contribution to those KPIs too!

Our team of industry experts are ready to demonstrate how DAS can work on your network, so get in touch with us today.

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Driving Advice System (DAS)

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