Lean Engineering Design of Rail Interlocking Systems with RailML
Author: Martijn Bosschaart
An interlocking system forms a vital part of a railway signaling system because it ensures the safe movement of trains. For one by controlling movable track elements like switches and for an-other by controlling signals.
The engineering design of interlocking systems poses challenges to both engineers at e.g. Siemens and the infrastructure manager, e.g. Prorail in the Netherlands. Challenges arise from the cumber-some, labor intensive, conservative, ambiguous and failsafe nature of the interlocking engineering design processes.
Best practices in lean production systems raise Siemens’ interest in a lean engineering approach, i.e. reduce the ‘waste’ that does not contribute value to the final rail product. The development of RailML, an open source IT tool that aims to standardize the ex-change of data in a variety of rail processes, may prove the lean catalyst. The lean philosophy has however seldom been applied in engineering design processes. Therefore, this research aims to provide insight in the drivers of the engineering design chain that decrease development time, increase data reliability and make application more flexible, while ensuring (fail-)safe systems. For that purpose, this thesis investigates the next research question:
To which extent can RailML potentially enable a leaner engineering design of rail interlocking systems?
This study focuses on the Dutch railway network. Furthermore, this study only considers engineering design processes and RailML as the data exchange tool.