Sydney Trains brings train data into the digital era

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Sydney Trains brings train data into the digital era

Aims to deliver travellers better information.

Sydney Trains is in search of an IT system that will underpin an $11.4 million effort to improve the rail information delivered to customers as well as the performance of the city's rail network.

NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian last month announced a three-year project to upgrade the rail network's operations centre, promising new technology and communications systems would offer train travellers more accurate, consistent and timely information.

Sydney Trains deals with around 2800 passenger train movements on its network each day, alongside 300 freight services.

The organisation’s CEO Howard Collins has previously blamed train delays on outdated technology and disparate control functions spread across a number of locations.

"At the moment communication between the train network control centre, frontline staff and customers has to go through a number of channels, and the new rail operations centre (ROC) will help to modernise the network to ensure we improve the daily journeys of our customers,” he said last month.

The number of control centres required to run trains in NSW grew from one in 1918 to four by 1989, with operations run from facilities in Sydney, Orange, Broadmeadow and Junee. An additional rail management centre was introduced in 2002 to meet changing infrastructure demands and the emergence of new technologies.

The four existing control centres were merged into a consolidated Infrastructure Control Centre in July 2012 - with the exception of the Broadmeadow facility, which was kept as a back-up facility. 

The network has as a result faced ongoing constraints, inhibited by the need for manual activity, complex control processes, fragmented systems, and inconsistent protocols and activities

Information delivered to customers has therefore been unreliable, slow and inaccurate. 

A spokesperson for Sydney Trains told iTnews current communications between operations staff is performed either over phone or train radio - one of a number of processes that need to be brought into the digital era.

Sydney Trains has approached the market for one or more service providers to design, test, implement and maintain three IT systems which will run out of the new ROC and which it hopes will deliver its desired end result of better customer communications.

By 2017, it plans to introduce a dynamic train timetable system, which will generate a train timetable in real-time; an incident management system; and a customer information management system, for the delivery of data presented to train travellers across multiple channels.

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