Intercity and local trains in the same direction normally use the same track. When the local train halts at a station the intercity train, driving more rapidly, can pass. If they drive according to the timetable, they do not interfere with each other.
A small deviation is enough to create interference. The intercity must reduce speed or the local train must wait at the station until the intercity has passed. This also has its influence on the capacity of the tracksection. In fact trains must follow each other as closely as possible (in time and distance) and this is the aim of the project Fast Passing.
ProRail (Dutch Infrastructure manager) developed several measures for Fast Passing. Intergo was asked to evaluate these measures from the perspective of the operational staff with respect to effectiveness and possible side effects. Focus was on additional support for both train drivers.
For the evaluation a simulator called MATRICS has been used. In this simulator train drivers and a traffic controller can play their part. Intergo has accompanied the process of the simulations (scenarios, organisation) as well as provided a substantive contribution (formulating hypotheses and evaluating).
Examined supporting measures are:
- A system called RouteLint, which gives the train driver an electronic view on the traffic situation ahead and the position of other trains;
- Advise on driving speed to the driver of the intercity train given in several ways;
- Instructions and a counter for the local train driver to indicate the ideal moment (time and distance) to leave the station after an intercity has passed.
The evaluation focused on:
- Effectiveness and efficiency of the process of Fast Passing;
- Information needs of the operators concerned (traffic controller, intercity train driver, local train driver, local train conductor and passengers);
- Workload of the traffic controller;
- Safe driving by the train driver (intercity and local train);
- Safe departure of the local train.
The version of RouteLint with speed information proved to contribute the most to the objectives of Fast Passing. It also appeared that speeding up the departure process of the local train could be achieved by giving the train conductor more information about the moment of releasing the track prior to the departure of the train.
Experiences during the simulations underpinned the statement that the human factor plays a decisive role to achieve a successful technical solution.