Irish Rail National Control Centre

Irish Rail National Control Centre
12 October 2015

A Staging Proposal Strategy and subsequent ITT documentation for the update and integration of a new national control centre. 

The current Iarnród Éireann CTC centre dates back to the 1970s and has been gradually extended during subsequent signalling renewals, including a major extension in the 1980s to accommodate the DART scheme. 

It has become the 'nerve centre' for train operations across the network and where strategic decisions are made in relation to the operation of the train services. It is also where passenger information is communicated to customers. Around 75% of the rail network (approximately 1,500km) is currently controlled from the CTC.

Much of the remainder is colour light signalling with Solid State Interlocking (SSI) controlled from various Emergency Control Panels (ECPs).

Due to the constraints of the existing premises, it was determined that a new National Control Centre (NCC) was required to provide improved capability for managing train movements throughout the network and to offer sufficient capacity for future expansion.

However, though the main impetus for expansion is signalling asset renewal - and the realisation of operational efficiencies through the closure of local mechanical signal boxes - many other benefits will stem from a centralised control centre, including better train regulation, improved decision making for service recovery following disruption, and real-time customer information systems.

The project

Iarnród Éireann engaged Ricardo Rail to conduct the necessary technical assessments to deliver a strategy for the update and integration of the CTC facility and functions.

The scope of work covers technical issues (for example, the priorities surrounding obsolescence of the existing CTC system, or the various technology upgrade choices available), human factors aspects, and financial implications such as forecasting capital expenditure.

Iarnród Éireann required a Staging Strategy for the transfer of systems and resources from the existing CTC to a new NCC that would ensure the capacity of the control functions would not be overloaded and that operational risks would be adequately managed.

It was necessary that the Staging Proposal took account of how any CTC stageworks could achieve supervision, control and regulation functions, whilst minimising the impact on train services and maintaining operational safety.
As part of the Staging Proposal Project, Ricardo Rail conducted assessments of the potential risk of service impacts resulting from the recommended staging options, including safety, disruptions and capacity restrictions, thereafter devising an approach to mitigate such impacts.

Detailed User Requirements and Technical Specifications

Following acceptance of the Staging Proposal, Ricardo Rail has since been awarded a contract to develop Detailed User Requirements and Technical Specifications for the new NCC. As part of these works, Ricardo Rail are developing:

The Operational Scope for the NCC.

  • Customer requirements for the new Railway Operational Control systems and NCC.
  • Implementation options and contract strategy for the provision of the new NCC.
  • An Implementation Programme for the entire NCC project through to commissioning.
  • Detailed User Requirements and Technical Specifications, using best international practice for the new Railway Operational Control systems.>Tender documentation for all required system contracts.
  • System inputs to the building design, including dependencies between the systems and buildings.
  • An estimate of the costs associated with the development of the new NCC.
  • Documentation to support Iarnród Éireann in the attainment of RSC Authorisation to Place In Service (APIS) Certification and Safety Validation certification for the concept phase.

To provide Iarnród Éireann with the support required, Ricardo Rail has brought together a multi-disciplinary team of experts across signalling, control systems, Human Factors, commercial and contracting strategies, building services and project management.