Network Rail is an engineering company established in 2002 by the government to maintain, improve and operate Britain’s rail infrastructure. It covers all aspects of the railway, owning signals, bridges, level crossing and most stations across the country. The company aims to improve safety, reliability, and efficiency and at the same time reducing costs. It’s main customers are train operating companies responsible for passenger and freight train services Network Rail aims at the improvement of West Coast Main Line covering 400 miles of track, as it is the principal rail freight corridor linking Europe mainland (via the Channel Tunnel) via London and South East England to the West Midlands, North West England and Scotland.
It has therefore invested heavily in the West Coast Main Line. With traffic increasing, the time available for track maintenance has reduced. Consequently, the company has started looking for ways to improve performance without reducing tracks safety. One solution is the Extended Engineering Access Total Solution Program which will allow Virgin trains to extend their operating hours, and allow Network Rail to perform track maintenance without impacting rail traffic.
This has provided an opportunity to develop an on line solution to replace the current use of Engineering Examination Vehicle which checks for any equipment left on the track before the track is returned to normal service. However, such inspection results in significant time loss. To overcome this, controls to registration/de-registration any equipment used, through an application called Vehicle Registration Control System, which will be operated by call centre staff, who will keep track of equipment used for maintaince , to ensure nothing was left on the track.
This application will work alongside the Site Control Access System that controls 2 engineering access to the track and without increasing work load will help with better control and also reduce time of maintenance.
Due to adequate development of software in IT, different processes and procedures can be designed and developed by software engineering. Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM) was used for this development, as it focuses on user involvement and is based on Rapid Application Development methodology. In additional the project employs some Structured System Analysis and Designed Method (SSADM) which is a system approach used for studying and planning different systems.
The reason for consideration of DSDM was time frame, and the limitations imposed by inadequate knowledge on requirements by those who interacted on the project. This did however allow for more interaction with the development team and user representative. Another benefit of DSDM and incremental prototyping is that as users, they get to use and test the project themselves during its creation, giving them a sense of ownership of the final product, thereby creating increased efficiency. DSDM and other approaches mentioned are methods of development through collaboration.
The following DSDM techniques were used for this project. Time boxing technique which focuses on timely submission of requirements was beneficial in ensuring timely delivery of the prioritized requirements of the project. Iteration allowed refinement of the database and prototyping and was of paramount importance. Prototyping helped refine the different functionalities and processes of the system by the creation of a demonstrable model in the early phase of the development, and was essential for developing the user interface.
SSADM techniques used, in the analysis phase were Business Activity Model (BAM),and the Logical Data Model (LDM), which provided clear understanding of existing manual processes, and related data requirements, leading to enhanced understanding of the existing system. 3 The major difference between the Project Initialization Document and the final product was that after investigating the data requirements, it was found that the system was storing duplicate information, irrelevant to the final product. The database was simplified keeping only necessary information.
The technology used was Oracle10g which is currently used for Network Rail and the application for development was Oracle Application Express (APEX) that is a rapid web application development tool for the Oracle database. Network Rail already had an Extended Engineering Access Program to improve the West Coast Main Line (WMCL), and this development had lead the company to introduce an application to control people access to the track as well. The Call Centre team was working with a Site Access Control System which allows the Person in Charge of the Possession (PICOP) to register any staff in and out of the possession.
Therefore the need was to develop an application to control vehicle in/out of a possession. Possession is an arrangement where trains operations on a section are suspended for a defined period of time, to allow maintenance work to be carried out. Research revealed PICOP handled all checking and the axis counter equipment which counts all vehicles which pass through. In addition the Engineering Vehicle Examination (EVE) track checks any equipment left on the track. This takes a maximum of one hour.
As PICOP had control of all vehicles in an out of the possession, the three success criteria were identified as: • Increase revenue by reducing possession time and returning track to run normal service • Save money by reduction of compensation paid due to maintenance work. • More customer satisfaction, by reducing interruption of services The chosen method was Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM) that is a well known methodology used by the Network Rail, and appropriate for small projects, integrated with Rapid Application Development (RAD).
As DSDM is more a frame work than method, seven phases were repeated for ensuring the project was started and set up correctly. 4 The application uses cases break the system into Work Call Centre Supervisor (WCCS) and Work Call Centre Operator (WCCO). The WCCS has enhanced user privileges, but it doesn’t mean that an operator can access another option in the system. The requirements were divided between Functional Requirements and Non Functional Requirements, reviewed and approved.
All code is stored in the database as metadata and when requesting a page the application interprets the metadata and quickly generates the HTML and display the result of SQL queries. The database used for this development is Oracle 10g that is a RDBMS and gives security to the application, is fast and easy to learn. The Web Server used is Apache and it already integrated with the Apex product reducing the need of a set up and is easy to install. The application is accessed via internal web portal that gives access control for the application.
It will be used by the Call Centre Team operating 24 X 7 based in Milton Keynes . The objective of the physical Design and Build Iteration was the production of an application to support the business to be safely placed in the hands of the users. Based on the information gathered on the Requirements Catalogue and Data Model, Network Rail has a clear approach to the application as simple as possible and functional, rapid and easy to use. It encompasses all APEX application developed in house. This template was hard coded with security functions and procedure to control used access and authorization.
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