ITC Papers

IRSE International Technical Committee papers

The mission of the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC) is to provide an multi-national and independent perspective on Railway Control, Command and Signalling (CCS) topics. Membership is by invitation, and comprises industry experts from both suppliers and operators, drawn from more than a dozen countries around the world. It aims to inform and educate both IRSE members and the train control and communications community worldwide, principally by the production of reports on selected topics. Listed below are ITC papers for which abstracts exist in the IRSE’s Knowledge Base. More recent papers are added as direct downloads, pending update of the knowledgbase. Click on the download button, or “view” link next to each entry in the table below to view the abstract and access the full document.

The use of formal methods in standardisation of interfaces of signalling systems (2019)

Like other infrastructure managers (IMs), ProRail BV and DB Netz AG are responsible for the safe and efficient running of trains; their signalling systems play an essential role in this task. That is why they have to convince themselves of the correct level of safety of the technology used. This article describes the cooperation of

these two IMs in paving the way towards the application of formal methods that can be used to prove the quality of software applied in signalling. As described later in

this article, the scope of the work focuses on the interfaces within the signalling system.

This paper about interlocking interfaces is one of three ITC articles concerning formal methods. The second will address the use of formal methods

in the certification process of Hybrid Level 3 ETCS, the third will deal with interlocking applications.

What constitutes good and acceptable practice in light rail signalling? (2019)

After the decline and closure of many tram systems in the middle years of the 20th Century, recent decades have seen increased interest in, and the deployment of, light rail (or rapid) transit (LRT) systems around the world to provide

higher passenger-carrying capacity and lower emissions than buses without the expense of heavy rail/metro systems.

So what do we mean by ‘light rail’ in this context? The UK ORR defines ‘Light Rail’ as follows:

“Light rail is an urban rail transportation system that uses electric-powered rail cars along exclusive rights-of-way at ground level, on aerial structures, in tunnels, or occasionally in streets. The operation is under full signal control and the current UK systems have full automatic train protection.

As the name suggests, the term light refers to operations carried out under
a less rigorous set of regulations, using lighter equipment at lower speeds than those used by heavy rail, such as services provided by train operating companies.

A tram system, tramway or tram is a railway on which streetcars or trolleys run. It is typically built at street level,

sharing roads with traffic, but may include private rights of way especially in newer light rail systems.

Many older tram systems do not have platforms, which enables integration with other forms of transport and pedestrians making simultaneous use of the streets”.

The ITC finds these definitions somewhat unsatisfactory in that the distinction between ’Trams’ and ‘Light Rail systems’ is not clearly made, indeed it even talks about ‘newer light rail systems’ in the paragraph about tram systems. In our view this matters because it is misleading; the first paragraph says, “The operation is under full signal control and the current UK systems have full automatic train protection”. Mixing the terms, without saying what is expected of tram systems specifically, creates the impression that they have a level of protection that in most cases they clearly do not. 

Achieving high levels of signalling system availability – is there a
role for secondary systems (2018)
This paper was produced by the IRSE International Technical Committee (ITC) and published in IRSE News September 2018. Rail Operators are driving the signalling industry to take a more holistic view of rail transportation operations with signalling solutions that recognise not only the importance …
VIEW 
Adopting a proactive approach to the implementation of speed
control systems (2018)
This paper was produced by the IRSE International Technical Committee (ITC) and published in IRSE NEWS January 2018. If a railway’s existing signalling system has certain limitations, for example leading to safety issues such as the risk of train collisions and/or derailments as a result of …
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Aspects of producing a business case for ERTMS (2017)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC) and was published in IRSE NEWS March 2017. There have been many attempts to produce a {business case} to justify the implementation of {ERTMS}/{ETCS} either in a particular area/country or on a particular line of route. …
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ATO for Suburban and Main Lines (2010)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC) in 2010, and was published in IRSE NEWS in July 2010. Many previous articles have described Automatic Train Operation ({ATO}) for metros, either in general, or focussing on a specific metro network or line, or a new tech …
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Avoiding the Butterfly Effect of Failures in Railway Signalling and Telecommunication Systems (2013)
This paper was published in IRSE News November 2013, by the IRSE International Technical Committee. How can we design our Railway Control and Command Systems for optimum continuity of operations and business? In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions …
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Cable Theft – an international perspective (2014)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC) and was published in IRSE NEWS April 2014. Cable theft is a concern for many European railway networks, with typical annual train delays of between five to twenty delay minutes per km of route. This may not sound all tha …
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Cybersecurity in railway signalling systems (2017)
This paper was written by/on behalf of the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC). It was published in IRSE NEWS September 2017. Railway signalling systems cannot be considered as self-contained any longer and new kinds of threats have to be considered and taken care of, related to the fac …
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Data redundancy and intelligent verification in the context of signalling and train control (2015)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC) and published in IRSE NEWS November 2015. Notwithstanding the benefits of computer-based and communications-based train control (CBTC), there exists in these systems a potential disadvantage that information can be lost, …
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Driver advisory systems –
opportunities and challenges (2018)
This paper was produced by the IRSE International Technical Committee (ITC) and was published in IRSE NEWS March 2018. Signal engineers are often accused of being concerned only with stopping trains to ensure safety, rather than controlling their movement in the most efficient manner. Driving a tr …
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Driving evolution towards Internet Protocol (IP) in signalling telecommunications (2016)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC) and published in IRSE NEWS January 2016. Earlier generations of non-IP based transmission systems are becoming more and more difficult to procure. Many are no longer supported by their original manufacturers. Their obsol …
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ERTMS Level 4, Train Convoys or Virtual Coupling (2016)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC) and published in IRSE NEWS February 2016. It was republished by the Rail Engineer magazine in May 2016. Railways around the world are facing demands to transport more passengers and freight, but constructing new tracks i …
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ETCS level 2 meets existing interlockings (2016)
Paper produced by the IRSE International Technical Committee (ITC) and published in IRSE NEWS October 2016. There are a wide variety of interlocking systems in use in railway networks worldwide. The system found on any particular route depends on a number of factors, often representing the most co …
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How do we reduce the number of accidents involving human factors (2018)
This paper was produced by the IRSE International Technical Committee (ITC), and was published in IRSE NEWS March 2018. It is based on a presentation given at the IRSE Technical Convention in 2018. Human error is undeniably at least a contributory factor in the causation of most accidents and inci …
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Improving the management of emerging and residual safety risks (2018)
This paper was published in IRSE News July/August 2018. It was produced by the IRSE International Technical Committee (ITC). The increased role of control command and signalling (CCS) in railway traffic management creates opportunities but also threats that need to be solved to ensure that the rai …
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International Technical Committee visits first UK main line ATO system (2018)
The recent running of the first test train across the Thameslink central core in London using ETCS Level 2 with Automatic Train Operation (ATO) superimposed was reported in the January 2018 edition of IRSE News. On the morning of the IRSE AGM on 27 April the International Technical Committee (ITC) w …
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Is there a need to redefine the safe state in fail-safe signalling system designs (2013)
This paper was published in IRSE News October 2013 by the IRSE International Technical Committee. As a profession, signal engineers can be rightly proud of the significant contributions they have made in maintaining and improving the safety of rail transportation over the past hundred years; an ac …
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ITC view on the residual risks to the Railway as at Q2 2018 (2018)This paper was published in IRSE News October 2018. During the presentation day of the IRSE Annual Convention in Dallas on 26 September 2017, the IRSE International Technical Committee (ITC) presented three linked papers which are amongst the most important outputs of the Committee in recent times …VIEW 
Managing obsolescence of electronic equipment in signalling (2010)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC). The 1980s saw big steps in signalling technology as relay based systems began to be superseded by microprocessor based equipment. These interlockings and control centres are now more than 20 years old and the hardware a …
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National Traffic Control Centres (2015)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC) and published in IRSE NEWS February 2015. There is a general evolution in many railway networks towards a centralisation of traffic control. This evolution began a long time ago and appears to be almost finished in some …
VIEW 
Rail integrity is the responsibility of the permanent way (2011)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee. It has a sub-title of “Ensuring rail integrity in the absence of track circuits”. An important driving force for the introduction of ETCS L3 is the possibility of avoiding the need for track based train detection equipment, w …
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Strategic drivers of change in the signalling industry (2017)
This paper was published in IRSE NEWS December 2017. It has been produced to summarise the strategic drivers of change in the signalling industry, as viewed by the IRSE International Technical Committee (ITC). This report does not attempt to capture every factor influencing change in our industry, …
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The evolution of safety practice in railway signalling (2017)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC) and published in IRSE NEWS October 2017. In the long history of railway signalling, its unique safety technologies have continuously evolved on the basis of the lessons learned from accidents. When microelectronics and c …
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Train Integrity is the Responsibility of the Railway Undertaking
(2009)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee in 2009. {ERTMS}/{ETCS} Level 3 remains to be fully specified but should offer railway infrastructure managers reduced cost and increased capacity. Despite this, existing projects in Europe and around the world are stuck at Le …
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Train Integrity: Making ETCS Level 3 happen (2010)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC). While ETCS L1 and L2 projects are actually being realized all over Europe and the world, many infrastructure managers stick to the vision of ETCS L3 as the ultimate solution of an interoperable train control system. W …
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Understanding Safety Integrity Levels (SIL) (2015)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC) and published in IRSE NEWS October 2015. The term ‘SIL’ or ‘Safety Integrity Level’ (originally Software Integrity Level) is one of the most misunderstood and misused terms in the Railway industry …
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Why do signalling projects fail (2018)
This paper was produced by the IRSE’s International Technical Committee (ITC), and subsequently published in IRSE News May 2018. Why do signalling projects fail? The reason for asking this question is that, in recent decades, the frequency at which projects fail appears to be increasing rather tha …
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Why is innovation so difficult in railways (2013)
This paper was published in IRSE News February 2013 by the IRSE International Technical Committee. Railways, and signalling in particular, are not generally well regarded for being innovative. Talented job applicants with a high-tech back-ground, such as software engineering, are predictably surpr …
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