Whole system railway modelling

Greenland, Garry Patrick (2019). Whole system railway modelling. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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There has been a general view articulated within the railway industry that there needs to be greater systems thinking and systems engineering applied to major projects within the industry (Network Rail, 2013 and Rail Safety and Standards Board, 2012). However, there are many differing ideas held by practising engineers of exactly what systems engineering is and how it is applied within the industry. There are also barriers within industry in general, management and practising engineers to using systems engineering techniques. They can be seen as an overhead in terms of, training, tooling, effort and costs. Also the benefits to be gained from applying these techniques are not easily seen when they work well.

A key pillar of systems engineering and systems thinking is the ability to look at a system as a whole. Part of this is getting to grips with what a system really is, it’s interaction with its operational environment and the world around it and to understand the various subsystems that the system is comprised of and their interaction, including people. This is particularly difficult when it comes to complex systems like railways.

This project attempts to develop an approach to modelling a whole railway system (or Guided Transport System (GTS) as it is defined in this project) by implementing a Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) approach and techniques. It also proposes definitions of a system and system engineering that are applicable to the Railway industry. Through a common view of a GTS as a whole and a common approach to modelling it, it should be possible to address some of the barriers to systems engineering techniques that currently exist.

MBSE has three pillars, a method, a modelling language and a modelling tool (Delligatti, 2014, pp. 4-7). The author has developed a method that can be applied to a whole complex system, such as a GTS, supported by the SysML modelling language implemented through the Enterprise Architect modelling tool (other languages and modelling tools could also be used).

The method developed was then tested on a body of students studying for an MSc in Railway Systems Engineering and Integration at the University of Birmingham. This body was chosen because the course is part time and the majority of the students work full time in the industry. Thus the author was able to gain an insight into how diverse the opinions on systems engineering and its application actually are within the industry and get valuable feedback on the systems modelling methodology developed during this research.

It has been demonstrated through the development of a partial model of various representative parts of a GTS, that it is possible, within a single model, to capture and represent a large and diverse amount of information about a GTS as it is defined within this thesis. This includes:

• its context within the wider world and its operational environment;
• its physical structure;
• the relationships between its various subsystems and the outside world;
• the views of a diverse stakeholder group and their Requirements; and
• critical system properties and how these are derived from the various layers of abstraction within the system.

The methodology drives the user to develop a model that:

1. is re-usable, e.g. applicable to different railways at different times;
2. is extendable in length (be able to model more railway) and depth (greater levels of detail);
3. allows the inclusion of existing quantitative and qualitative models from other sources;
4. encourages the use of data from existing sources;
5. is open and transparent to allow others to use and add to them; and
6. enables the production of outputs that are readily understandable across disciplinary divides e.g. common representation.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 Creative Commons: Attribution-Share Alike 4.0
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
School or Department: School of Engineering, Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
T Technology > TF Railroad engineering and operation
T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/9309


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