Ten years ago, Agility3 turned a 3D vision into a digital reality
It brought the latest modelling and simulation technologies within the reach of the rail industry, enabling it to understand, embrace, and use interactive 3D, and integrate it into its business functions to drive operational benefits in a way it never previously could.
Rail continues to be a key focus for Agility3, and the company has delivered a wide range of solutions for the sector, covering everything from 3D modelling that enables stakeholders to assess proposed station upgrades, to interactive applications for visualising complete rail networks, and much more.
These are used not only by railway operators, infrastructure managers and research institutes, but also by railway simulation providers who are looking to enhance the capabilities of their own products, in order to create a more compelling and marketable offering.
Below, we take a look at just one recent project that relied on rail solutions from Agility3, and briefly explore the benefits delivered in terms of cost savings, decision-making, and risk reduction – amongst others.
ProRail: getting the most out of the network
Increasing flexibility and capacity in daily rail operations through better decision support systems like ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) sounds good on paper – but in practice it can only work smoothly if the impact of such systems on train drivers, controllers, and other personnel involved in the operation of the railway is fully understood.
This was why Dutch rail network infrastructure manager ProRail turned to Agility3 to provide an accurate 3D driver view ‘out of the cab’ that would replicate real world signs, signals, and other features, and demonstrate how these appear or behave differently as a result of changes to procedures and schedules driven by the ongoing introduction of ERTMS.
See what the driver sees
In the solution, existing track, station, and asset data is presented faithfully, but also in a way that takes into account scenario-specific effects (for example, weather, sunlight, shadow, night-driving, the presence of other trains and rolling stock) and how these might be exacerbated or mitigated by ERTMS’s effect on timings, track occupancy, and other planning and operational parameters.
This integrated 3D view enables ProRail to gain a thorough insight into how ERTMS will impact the experience of a train driver, and helps it to test, improve, and validate the processes that take place between train drivers and controllers – significantly mitigating risks.
Performance, punctuality, energy: the optimum balance
But the benefits are not just confined to risk reduction. Efficiency and resource usage also improve as the solution integrates with existing traffic management systems to model multiple scenarios (advisory speeds, booking of routes, change of track allocation, etc.) to improve traffic performance and optimise punctuality and throughput against energy consumption.
Better performance, less risk, greater fuel efficiency, and, ultimately, a greener economy, as rail is now poised to offer more capacity to rival travel and freight by road than it ever has before.
Digital is a new dimension for rail in more ways than one.
Taking rail digital: success stories and getting started
ProRail is just one of many high-profile customers that Agility3 has worked with in the rail sector, which also include Transport for London (TfL), Birmingham University’s Centre for Rail Research and Education (BCRRE), Network Rail, and many others.
And although specialist bespoke development is always in scope where needed, the stunning realism and modelling that delivers both the critical view from the cab and the ability to build and edit 3D environments in minutes is available in off-the-shelf products that are, of themselves, inherently customisable – enabling 3D asset packs to be easily created for even the most specific of environments.
Combined with standard, off-the-shelf hardware, and integration with existing geographical and infrastructure data and simulators, these innovations come together to deliver a powerful 3D solution for ERTMS planning, infrastructure design, training, and optimisation.
Next stop: A virtual platform!