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Railway Signalling Case Study - SORAT Risk Assessments

Signal Overrun Risk Assessment Tool (SORAT)

As part of Network Rail’s on-going safety and performance improvement commitments and in compliance with the requirements of RSSB’s Railway Industry Standard Reference RIS-0386-CCS, Network Rail developed a bespoke web based tool to quantify, mitigate and manage risk associated with overrun risk within UK infrastructure. The resultant software package was the Signal Overrun Risk Assessment Tool (SORAT).

Project Scope

The key driver for this project was assessing and reducing the risk and consequential impact of a train to train collision following a SPAD. The core functionality of the system can be split into 3 areas and this is carried out for both existing railway and for all infrastructure change projects:

Project Scope

Quantitative Risk Assessment

  • A risk engine consisting of mathematical algorithms that quantify the overrun risk on a signal by signal basis.
  • Desktop exercise using known parameters that are fed into the software and used in the calculations.
  • Output is a number of risk scores in units FWI/yr which can be used as a filtering exercise to take the higher risk signals to a qualitative review.

Qualitative Risk Assessment

  • The higher scoring signals and those with other concern (SPAD History) are taken through an expert judgement workshop to discuss the risk in more detail.
  • The SPAD Probability is varied for local conditions and distractions using 16 questions within the VariSPAD protocol developed by RSSB.
  • Multiple mitigation measures can be suggested and their benefits assessed through the Cost Benefit Analysis module

Management and Audit

  • Full audit trail of decision making and process. Each and every change in the system is logged and is searchable by the administrator.
  • Inbuilt commissioning process for handover from new schemes to the existing railway
  • Inbuilt checking and acceptance processes
  • All algorithm parameters are available to the administrator and the system can be calibrated without the need to update the system
  • Four levels of user with allocation to project folders managed by super users and administrator within the system.
  • Algorithms were validated and checked by an individual third party and the output verified by the RSSB.
  • Ongoing development of the system is directed by the SORAT steering group which meet monthly and is made up of Network Rail, RSK Business Solutions and RSSB.

Methodologies Used

SORAT is a truly innovative solution, taking a novel approach to the measurement of this specific operational risk. SORAT sets the worldwide benchmark for managing overrun risk.

Our powerful risk management tool - which was written from scratch and uses a large amount of complex mathematical algorithms - helps Network Rail to improve performance and more importantly the on-going safety across the whole rail network.

To deliver the system, we worked with the Research and Development team within RSSB in order to understand the bespoke nature of the risks and mitigations.

Network Rail have nominated SORAT for the national partnership awards and updated releases of the system are already planned which will build in other risk assessment methodology such as SPAD into Level Crossing and an assessment of risk for trackside workers. 

 

Final Deliverable

Final Deliverables

Technical Specification

SORAT is a fully web based tool which is hosted within Network Rail environment but is available to users both internal and external to Network Rail. SORAT is designed using enterprise level architecture using Java J2EE and Oracle 11g as the relational database management system. The solution has been deployed on WebSphere Application Server v7.0.

Go Live and System Support

SORAT has been live for 3 years and has been received exceptionally well by the industry. There are currently 300 risk assessors with access to the system and over 13000 risk assessments have been completed since go live.

SORAT is ready to be implemented elsewhere and may be available within 6 weeks of sign up. The solution on offer will be hosted and supported by RSK Business Solutions Ltd or we can configure the system to work within the client’s network.

The system can be calibrated to fit with any infrastructure environment with possible guidance from RSSB research.

System training is carried out by RSK Business Solutions Ltd or we can offer train the trainer guidance to get trainers up to speed with the system, the process and the algorithms. RSK Business Solutions also offer technical support on the SORAT process and manage the part 2 competence assessments for newly trained assessors.

Testimonials

We have been working with the outsourcing team at RSK Business Solutions for over 2 years now.  Their technical team continues to develop our .Net, Silverlight, GIS and Bing map development tasks. They have the right mix of technical and communication skills for the job. – I would not hesitate in recommending them to anyone…a first class software outsourcing partner!
Richard Robertson | CADLine | Business Development Director
RSK combined their technical knowledge of the risk process with their software development consultants to deliver an innovative platform that now allows us to mitigate the risks and manage our future investment programme across for our estate. I would definitely recommend RSK to other businesses – they thought out of the box on this one and have delivered an excellent solution for our individual business needs
Paola Franchi | Rontec | Business Excellence Strategist
Idhammer systems have been working with RSK Business Solutions Ltd for over three years to provide experienced technical resources on a number of our development projects. RSK BSL have become a valuable addition to our team and have proved themselves to be able to react quickly to requirements. They have provided resources with experience and competence in ASP.NET technology, iOS development and MS SQL
Clare Darlison | Idhammar | Managing Director, Technical
Glenfield Software have called upon RSK Business Solutions Ltd (RSK BSL) to provide technical offshore resources to increase the capability of our development team within busy periods or for larger projects. RSK BSL have proved to be a flexible and reliable supplier of offshore development. Specifically they successfully supported us develop a native iOS mobile application for one of our high end retail clients. We would be happy to use RSK BSL in the future
Ken Francis | Glenfield Software | Company Director
AM Rail Group has worked closely with RSK’s risk assessment team on the Doncaster Connectivity project. RSK Business Solutions Ltd proved that they were able to deliver and adapt quickly to changes in scope that are inevitable at GRIP 3 and 4 design stage. RSK Business Solutions Ltd SORAT and Level Crossing risk team continue to support AM Rail Group on a number of level crossing renewals and re-signalling schemes and we look forward to continuing and strengthening this partnership in the future
Miles Hancock | AM Rail | Managing Director
On a project the size of ours, there are a number of variables to consider and they have to be accounted for. RSK Business Solutions' timesheet allows us to break costs down so we can understand them. It is user-friendly and saves us an inordinate amount of time; it's an efficient way of working.
Trevor Jones | National Grid | Project Resources Manager
The online timesheet made understanding the spend and progress against the budget not only a simple process, but offered much needed project detail at the touch of a button. The timesheet was a very beneficial addition to the project and proved to be a very capable tool.
Darren Cottrell | Network Rail | Signalling Risk Control Co-ordinator
RSK delivered a bespoke solution for us within a very tight timescale and it was refreshing to partner with such a flexible and responsive software provider. The system is now integral to our every day operations and we look forward to continuing to work with RSK as our Apprenticeship Programme continues to grow.
Ann-Marie Hughes | Pearson in Practice | Finacne Buiness Partner
Colas recently worked with RSK Business Solutions Rail team to provide SORA support on the Thameslink London Bridge Stage works. Colas, as part of the Wessex Capacity Alliance, also contracted RSK Business Solutions Ltd to provide Operational Risk Assessment expertise to the Wessex Capacity Improvement Project – Waterloo Approaches. Their staff have always been professional and courteous and have been reactive to the pressures of delivering such large and high profile projects. We look forward to continuing this partnership on future projects
CJ Lansom | Colas Rail | Operations Manager (Signalling) - Rail Systems

DEG Signal have contracted RSK Business Solutions Ltd on many occasions in order to provide Operational Risk Assessments for our GRIP 3 and 4 signalling design projects. RSK Business Solutions risk team have proved to be experts in their field and make themselves available to give advice whenever it is requested of them. When working with RSK Business Solutions Ltd we can rest assured that the operational risk elements of our projects are covered so that we can concentrate on our core design and project management functions and deliver our projects to the satisfaction of our clients. We would look forward to continuing our collaboration with RSK Business Solutions Ltd on future projects.

Russell Gell FIRSE  | DEG Signal | Engineering Director

Mott MacDonald has contracted RSK Business Solutions Ltd for over 10 years to support us with operational risk assessment on many of our signalling projects. Their team of risk assessors have proved to be competent, approachable and have always worked with us to achieve some challenging deadlines.

David Teasdel | Mott MacDonald | Railway Signalling Consultant Engineer

Babcock International (then First Engineering Ltd) first worked with RSK Business Solutions Ltd in 2004 on the West Coast Modernisation Project Line Speed Enhancements. Since then they have provided operational risk assessment support on many infrastructure and signalling projects of varying sizes. The RSK Business Solutions Ltd team have always been attentive to our requirements and professional in their manner. They continue to be flexible and committed to meet the deadlines of our projects and as the technical experts we know that RSK Business Solutions Ltd can be relied upon to provide the right advice at the right time. I look forward to working with the team on future projects.

Brad Thompson | Babcock International Group | Signalling Design Consultant

The Sustainability and Environmental Risk Management System (SERMS) written by RSK Business Solutions Ltd was adopted and deployed by MACE and is now used on all UK construction projects. The system advises and guides our project managers through the complex legal compliance issues that come with large construction projects taken on by MACE. Recently, the system has been adapted for the global market and has been well received. RSK Business Solutions Ltd adopt a consultative approach which is backed by a fundamental understanding of construction and environmental domains which set them apart from other software suppliers

Andrew Kinsey | MACE Group | Sustainability Director
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