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An efficient tool for overcoming communication barriers in railway transport

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Marin Marinov, Dr Tom ZunderORCiD


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1. Objective Rail transport has been recognised as an environmentally-friendly transport mode with a significant potential to contribute to the sustainability agenda of today. The concept of “Europe without borders” brings many benefits to nations but also requires standards, harmonization and uniformity. When running trains abroad the rail personnel face the challenge of communication. If there is no seamless communication in place severe accidents may occur on the rail network causing damages, injuries and death. On the other hand seamless communication improves system performance and increases efficiency in the rail network and hence the rail service is of better quality as well as at lower cost. Motivated by this situation we developed an efficient tool for improving communication between rail personnel. More specifically, for the purposes of this discussion a coded language for facilitating communication between rail operations authorities is discussed and the potential of this tool is evaluated through measures of systems performance using analytical and simulation modelling. 2. Data/Methodology For the development of the coded language the existing situation in the bi-lingual Belgian railways (SNCB/NMBS) considering the Dutch and French language has been examined. Official Belgian (SNCB/NMBS) manuals B-TC.61 and B-TP.61 (“Veiligheidsmededelingen per radio of per telefoon/ Geplastificeerde Fiches”) have been used as a starting point. Specifically, the traffic rules set up the standard. The communication procedure suggests the order of information exchange between rail personnel involved in the complex train movement. To describe the communication procedures oriented-graphs can be used. Examples of how the coded language should be used in daily operations with freight trains have been elaborated and modelled. 3. Results/Findings It should be noted that this paper is developed with the intention to examine the implementation of a coded language to operating processes with freight trains in a network. The results obtained from our models suggest that if the coded language had been implemented the rail industry would experience significant benefits seen in reduction of waiting times, smoother freight train operations in case of disruptions, better utilisation of static and dynamic resources and hence reduction of operating costs. 4. Implications for Research/Policy To the best of our knowledge a coded language to overcome communication barriers encountered during operating processes with freight trains has not been introduced as such so far. That is why this research is believed to be one of the first steps towards the development of a standard coded language system for international railway transport. Currently the coded language developed is being incorporated in a message management system for rail software applications, demonstrating significant potential for market up-take.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Marinov M, Arnoldus R, Zunder T

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: World Conference on Transport Research (WCTR)

Year of Conference: 2013