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Innovative rail project: an online ASDO database for a major train operator

Updated: Jun 30, 2022

Modux has recently been working with Northern, a major UK train operator, to create a suite of tools to help manage their Automatic Selective Door Operation (ASDO) system. These tools were created in a number of weeks, from start to finish, delivered by the Modux rapid innovation team.

What is Automatic Selective Door Operation (ASDO)?

ASDO is an on-board control system which works out when to open doors and which ones should be opened. Where platforms are shorter than the trains, ASDO ensures that some doors are prevented from opening so that passengers don’t exit from any carriages not standing at the platform. Only doors that are safe to be opened are released.

The ASDO system receives multiple data sources about the train’s location from beacons placed on the track, from GPS and from odometry calculations based on the train’s speed. This data, combined with uploads from a database of station and track information, feeds the ASDO system so it can automatically check the train position and platform length to identify which doors should and shouldn’t open at each station.

What was the problem?

The database of station and track information that Northern was using to feed the ASDO system was offline, out-of-date and incomplete. Management of this information was a manual process driven by legacy document sharing. Multiple users were involved in collecting data and uploading it to the database, leading to confusion about which was the most recent version. There was no single place for up-to-date data.

Modux’s solution

Modux worked with Northern to replace their old database with a new online asset management database. This new system is able to hold a huge amount of information. It lists all stations, with their latitude and longitude, the operational length of the station, reset points, segments and track infrastructure.

The system can store current data as well as allowing for future changes, so that planned updates to station or track information can be applied in advance of deployment. This information is kept up-to-date by users who log in via the organisation's SSO system, where admins can also manage hierarchical privileges. Users can propose updates to the data, which are subject to approval by management.

Another important feature of the new database is the change log. Every amendment and every record change is logged with the date, time and user ID.


The database that Modux built is a huge improvement on Northern’s old system. Northern’s onboard staff now have a single central database of accurate information that they can rely on to keep their ASDO systems running smoothly. The new database has saved hours of staff time and Northern is able to run a better service for train passengers.


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