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Improved train dispatch with our new technology solution for Network Rail

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Modux is always on the lookout for opportunities to create innovative solutions which lead to tangible improvements, and as part of our ongoing partnership with Network Rail we have recently developed technologies to improve the day-to-day safety and efficiency of railway stations.

Members of the Modux R&D team were at Preston Train Station last week to support the demonstration of a new prototype handheld baton we developed, which aims to improve platform train dispatch.

Current issues with indicator systems

In some stations both the TRTS (Train Ready To Start) and RA (Right Away) systems are located at a distance from each other on the platform, causing significant delays to dispatch times, as staff have to enable each indicator system before a train service can safely depart. Network Rail identified significant safety and timing issues at platforms. They found that in order to operate the final ‘Right Away’ indicator to the train driver, the dispatcher had to turn their back on the stairwell, as well as the train and any last-minute passengers, to walk up to 30 seconds to the other side of the platform to reach it.

The Modux team were tasked with investigating the options of a wireless solution for a handheld dispatch plunger which would enable the use of both the TRTS and RA indicator systems.

New technology solution

To meet the requirements, our new technology solution needed to be:

• fully portable,

• easily integrated with the existing TRTS and RA equipment,

• able to operate wirelessly and securely,

• simple to use, requiring minimal staff training and handling,

• compatible with both new and retrofitted equipment boxes.

The Modux R&D team developed a technology system to fit within the traditional handheld baton currently used by Network Rail dispatch staff, with a portable wireless device and internal rechargeable batteries.

The prototype handheld baton we developed

The system we developed allows for parallel operation of the current physical dispatch buttons alongside the new wireless procedure.

In order to prevent the accidental triggering of signals from the handheld baton, the device we developed features buttons on opposing sides that have to be depressed simultaneously for a period of time to issue dispatch signals.

The Modux solution enables dispatch staff to better position themselves on the platform from both a safety and passenger service perspective; staff can use the portable device with improved visibility of the train and platform whilst also remaining available to assist the public - ultimately allowing for a safer and faster dispatch.

Live Testing at Preston Station

Throughout the day at Preston Train Station the Modux team was on hand to support the live testing of the new technology, alongside the Power Box Signallers and the local Signalling and Telecommunications team.

Following the live tests, the opportunity arose to trial the technology on platform three to dispatch a live train, allowing the teams to see the new system working successfully in a busy public setting.

It was a great result for all involved. The technology consistently achieved excellent results, and allowed for seamless communication between the portable wireless device and the TRTS and RA equipment. According to Network Rail’s Tony Berryman the Modux solution “exceeded expectations”.

The prototype will continue to be developed in partnership with Network Rail in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more updates!

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