When it comes to unlocking future growth in the rail sector and beyond, advancing the digital transformation is high on the European Union’s agenda. One of the keys to making this happen is the uptake of new fundamental technologies such as digital twins. Here, we’ll discuss the benefits of digital twins in rail control projects, and how the technology fits into our signaling design automation process to help infrastructure managers carry out more successful rail control projects.

How digital twins 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 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 software 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 refer to the digital twin of the rail control system as a Reference Model Implementation (RMI). A RMI is developed using formal methods that utilizes automated simulation and formal verification. 

Suppliers can use the RMI as input for the detailed design, using automation tools for code generation, testing and verification, and further shortening project schedules and reducing costs. The RMI 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.

Benefits of Reference Model Implementation

  • Simplified rail control solution procurement processes
  • More efficient validation and verification process
  • Reduced risk of misunderstandings and project delays
  • More predictable delivery schedules and costs
  • Less time needed for costly on-site tests
  • Minimizes the risk of error discovery late in the procurement process
  • Makes it easier to accurately gauge if systems comply with requirements

Learn more about how RMI can help your railway development project.

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