Informed Sources

Over £100 million with little to show

Before writing the obituary for Network Rail’s long-running Traic Management System (TMS) procurement exercise it would be only fair to set it in the context of a project with similarly vaulting ambition. A handy comparator is the Apollo moon landing programme.

From President Kennedy making the commitment to land a man on the moon in September 1962 and Neil Armstrong making his ‘one small step’ onto the lunar surface took 2,500 days. If we assume that the issue of the TMS Notice in the Oicial Journal of the European Union marks the start of the TMS programme, at the time of this issue’s publication the project had been been running for 3,424 days. In months, 82 for Neil Armstrong plays 112 for TMS.

That comparison may be a bit unkind, since from OJEU to contracts took a long time. If we work from the date the three contractors were awarded contracts to supply TMS demonstration suites modelling Leeds station, then the irst deployment installation of Traic Management (TM) at the South Wales Control Centre and Romford Rail Operating Centre (ROC) has, so far, taken only 2,296 days, or 75 months, as this issue is published.


Of course, there is a signiicant diference in this comparison. If the three lavours of TM – Integrated/ Interfaced/Isolated – are equated to moon landing, then Integrated, as described in the October 2018 column, represents boots on lunar soil. Interfaced could be Apollo 8 orbiting the moon at Christmas 1968 and Isolated, also known as Operational Decision Support Tools (ODST), could be earth orbit. And all the First Deployment may now deliver after approaching £100 million and 2,296 days is ODST.

I say ‘may’, because the end of Control Period 5 on 31 March 2019 will mark the end of funding for the two irst deployment TM projects. This will leave Cardif with a basic version of ODST ofering limited capabilities (see box). The key point to remember about Isolated is that when the TM identiies the need for changes to the timetable, these are passed to the signaller by the Train Running Controller to be implemented.

Cardif is the lead First Deployment installation. The latest software drop in November had made ODST available to complete the training of Train Running Controllers. A second drop, planned for January, will make ODST available for operational use. The original commissioning date was December 2015.


However, the real shocker is at Romford ROC that, according to a Network Rail presentation as recently as 12 months ago, was still due to get Integrated TM by the end of 2018.

Before then Upminster Integrated Electronic Control Centre (IECC), which controls what we used to call the London, Tilbury & Southend (LTS) route, was due to get ODTS following its successful introduction at Cardif.

As I write, none of that has happened. Romford TM has been descoped and the most that can be expected – before the money runs out in March – is the provision of the ODST Stage 3 facilities (as planned at Cardif) at Upminster. However, larger forces are at play.

It seems likely that consolidation of signalling for the Anglia Route at the ROC has been deferred, if not abandoned. The Siemens WestCad workstations were installed and commissioned at Romford a while ago and have been sitting idle and may now be removed.

With signalling of LTS remaining at Upminster IECC it seems illogical to put in ODST screens at Romford when you could upgrade to IEEC Scalable and put in Resonate’s Luminate Integrated TM. Liverpool Street IECC is a more immediate candidate for Luminate.

This column suggested the Luminate upgrade as the obvious solution for Upminster way back. However, as ‘Informed Sources’ First Law reminds us, ‘never assume that railways are rational organisations’. So it’s RIP TMS, hello TM.

According to informed sources, new Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines believes that TM should be the priority for Digital Railway. Next month I’ll report on a leading signalling contractor that is entering the TM fray.


ODST Stage 3

■ Receipt of information about forecast and actual train movements

■ Ability to publish one-of VSTPs within the TM area

■ Use of Dynamic Simpliiers (Station Boards) at signaller workstations and signal boxes

Red lights in the distance: Transport for Wales Rail Services’ No 175107 rests in platform 3 at Cardif Central on 12 October 2018, having worked in with the 07.37 from Ebbw Vale Town. No 70812 approaches on the down main working 6V54, the 05.35 Chirk Kronospan – Baglan Bay timber empties.
Martin Turner