Advancing the digital transformation is the key to meeting demands for efficient rail transportation, and one important enabler of this is the uptake of new fundamental technologies such as digital twins. In this guide, we focus on how the specification phase of rail control projects can be improved by using formal methods and digital twins. Getting the specifications right from the start, already at the tendering phase, will help you avoid costly specification missteps and, ultimately, carry out a more successful rail control project.
What’s a digital twin and how does it benefit the rail sector?
A digital twin is essentially a virtual, interactive replica of a real physical system, asset or process, including its real-time characteristics and behaviors. Applied to the railway sector, a digital twin encompasses the entire infrastructure – from stations, rolling stock, and signals, to the coordinating IT systems.
Infrastructure managers as well as remote repair crews and station staff stand to benefit from having a digital twin of a railway. With access to a real-time 3D representation of the entire railway infrastructure, maintenance and repairs can be performed faster, and more proactive decisions can be made to prevent safety hazards and costly mistakes, while improving overall efficiency.
But the digital twin is also immensely beneficial when put to use early on – before a railway’s system has even been specified – to ensure the right system is built in the first place.
Using digital twins to develop better rail control systems
Creating a digital twin at the start of a rail control project, before tendering begins, enables infrastructure managers to formulate and evaluate more precise system requirements and, ultimately, procure better systems at a more reasonable price.
At Prover we recommend developing a digital twin by using a process based on formal methods and design automation. This approach minimizes the effort required for development, and provides efficient tools for the simulation, validation and verification of requirement specifications.
Suppliers can use the digital twin as input for the detailed design, using automation tools for code generation, testing, and verification, and further shortening project schedules and reducing costs. The digital twin can then be used throughout the lifecycle of the rail control system, reducing costs related to upgrades and adding new features during the maintenance phase.
What to expect from this guide
In this guide, we will run through the basics of how you, as an infrastructure manager or system buyer, can use formal methods and digital twins to simplify the requirement specification phase and generate the high-quality specifications you need to accomplish your system goals and get your rail control project off to a better start. Finally, we will put all our learnings in perspective with a real-life example. Let’s begin!