Technology

VR models drive safe design in rail project signal sighting

Screengrab from TrueSight - 3D modelling for safe rail project design, particularly signal sighting
The train driver’s point of view reveals that the signal positioned at the end of the platform can’t be seen because an approaching train is blocking the view

VR models, driven by CAD and GIS data, are being used to ensure safety in the design of rail projects, particularly for signal sighting.

The rail industry uses signal sighting assessment to confirm that train operators can reliably read, interpret and respond to signals at the lineside.

When designing new structure installations and buildings on or near the rail line (including alterations to existing structures and buildings), whether permanent or temporary, it is essential to consider the potential impact on signal sighting compliance.

The TrueSight VR platform, using CAD and GIS data, has been developed by True North Rail and provides multi-angle videos of signal positioning. The system enables the most commonly required changes to be implemented ‘in-game’ live in a signal sighting review session. This significantly reduces the review timescales and rework compared with other methods, True North Rail said.

The example in the main image above is the driver’s view as they approach a station. At this point, the driver’s view of the signal is blocked by the other train. The image below is a few mouse clicks after the signal has been repositioned in the model and reveals that the driver can now see the signal, despite the other train.

After the signal has been repositioned, the train driver can now see the signal despite the approaching train

Saving time and money

According to James Furlong, co-director at True North Rail, TrueSight was used recently to achieve “approval on all required signalling changes for two new stations, eliminating the need for two signal banner repeaters. This not only expedited the project, but also generated substantial savings of approximately £500,000.”

True North Rail was formed in 2018 by rail engineers who wanted to bring the technology used in computer gaming to the rail sector. After a period of research and development, the business secured its first competitive tender to deliver the signal sighting model for a major resignalling scheme. In 2022, True North Rail secured its largest project to date, in partnership with WSP, to provide the signal sighting VR model and driver route learning package for the Network Rail Crewe programme.

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