Technology Review of Railway Management Control Centres

for Railtrack plc

Mike Dowling, Railtrack plc, 40 Bernard Street, London WC1N 1BY

October 1996 to November 1996

Objective: To survey the state of the art world-wide in centralised control of railways

Railtrack inherited a mix of rail control centres and associated technologies from British Rail. It is now applying commercial criteria for the first time to the question of when to renew existing centres and what technology to apply. This project provided input on the state of the technologies and architectures around the world to the complex investment decisions faced by Railtrack.


Methodology / Analytics: Site visits and telephone interviews

A comprehensive world-wide survey was accomplished with a limited budget. This was achieved by obtaining the bulk of the data through telephone interviews and by carefully  targeted visits to certain key railways’ control centres. Our depth of prior background knowledge of many of the world’s railways and railway control centres allowed us to use these two data collection modes efficiently.


Results: Resulting database used by Railtrack and its zones to select superior investment options for Management Control Centres

The project successfully built a database which Railtrack and its zones use to support investment decision making in Control Centres. This modest project was successful on this important project because the database and the data collection procedure were based on clear hypotheses. For example, we knew from experience that only certain of the contributing technologies were critical. Moreover, we knew that once competent technologies were chosen, the architecture was the most critical issue. We tested and proved these and other hypotheses, which allowed Railtrack to move quickly from a multiplicity of complex options to a relatively simple decision process supported by our decision support matrix and database.