Analysis

Implementation of Deloitte’s Motion Simulator asset

4 min read

How Deloitte’s powerful AI and simulation backed technology framework helps clients build a robust solution for testing new timetables, thereby increasing rail efficiency and commuter capacity.

The Challenge

The most dreaded moment for any rail operator and daily train commuter alike, is a service disruption during the peak hours on any weekday. On 21st May 2018 ‘Meltdown Monday’ in the UK made national headlines as rail passengers were hit by widespread disruptions and cancellations with the introduction of new rail timetables particularly impacting Northern and Thameslink services. The implementation of rolling incremental changes across 3,000 daily services from Sunday the 20th May 2018 resulted in the rescheduling of over 4 million trains across Britain. The very next working day witnessed cancellations in one in seven (14%) of Northern's services, with a further one in six (17%) delayed by at least five minutes. One in four Thameslink trains scheduled to run through central London during rush hour were also cancelled. An estimated half a million commuters were said to be affected by the new train times and stopping patterns brought into operation.

On an average, timetables schedule more than 22,000 trains carrying 4 million passengers a day across 19,000 miles of track. Thus, in hindsight, facing challenges with the roll out of one of the most massive timetable changes across Britain in decades seems plausible. However, this was just the tip of the iceberg of the wider challenges that the rail industry has been facing for several years. Lingering issues like ageing infrastructure, increasing passenger volume and demand have unearthed the core 3 main challenges of the rail industry - inefficient capacity management, declining performance, and increasing asset costs. The ‘Meltdown Monday’ incident prompted looking at alternative emerging technologies to test time tables before they are released and implemented for commuters.

Deloitte Solution

Deloitte created a robust & scalable solution leveraging innovative technologies in the market to create a foundation for testing new timetables before release.

Initial Diagnosis by Deloitte unearthed data integration issues across multiple legacy systems: traffic management systems, asset management systems and Operational data.

Solution engineered by Deloitte empowered a Digital twin application which had 3 major components:

System Modelling: Foundation built on a holistic view of the data landscape augmented with external available data referred to as whole system modelling.

AI Recommendation Engine: An Industrialised AI recommendation engine was built which could automatically generate robust timetables by learning from the past on 5 Billion historical records of train journeys.

2D & 3D real world environment Simulator : Additionally using emerging technologies like gaming simulation software which captures the interaction of physics and kinematics of rigid bodies like trains with the earth, a virtual digital 2D & 3D replica of the network with signals, stations, trains and other infrastructure was created, providing a near real-world environment to test and execute multiple ‘What-If’ scenarios and timetables concurrently .

The entire solution from whole system modelling , AI recommendation engine and Virtual world was industrialised for the client and simulation outputs were captured and processed within visual dashboards which provided scenario outcomes measured against KPIS of capacity and performance of the the network, hence empowering clients to make data driven decisions before timetables were released to the public.

Deloitte Value Add

The innovative solution was a first-of-its-kind and has the potential to revolutionise the entire rail industry. It brings structure and simplicity to what is generally considered to be a complex and time-consuming process. The Deloitte tool empowers clients with the capability to stress test any timetable in a virtual environment and impact assess changes to it before releasing it for public consumption.

Tangible benefits of the solution:

  • Improvement in train punctuality of 0.1% which equates to improve performance on 7,200 services per year and approximately 1.6 million more passenger journeys on time
  • Approximately 18 million minutes of train delays avoided

In the new world era where COVID-19 regulations govern how we operate, governments are looking for technology backed solutions to help citizens manoeuvre uncertainty. Socially-distanced seating, number of passengers traveling, creation and deployment of dynamic timetables based on passenger demand and crew availability are the new normal. Simulation tools of this nature can help companies with objects in motion to continuously generate new timetables and stress test them within a virtual environment in near real time capacity. Additionally, these tools can be used to assess the impact of long term business benefits and will provide industries like transportation with data based decision making capabilities to justify their investments in the future and increase ROI and decrease OPEX.

Learn more about Deloitte’s Motion Simulator Asset

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