News & Events-New concept rail signalling system gains positive reaction from industry

Engineering Consultancy Frazer-Nash and Park Signalling have won the 2012 joint Railway Industry Association (RIA) / RSSB Innovation Award, which was funded by RSSB, for a pioneering Virtual Lineside Signalling (VLS) system

The technological development of VLS has been undertaken by Park Signalling.  It offers rail infrastructure operators the opportunity to significantly cut the cost of railway signalling on lightly used lines.  A working demonstration of the system has been shown to Network Rail and the Department for Transport.

While there are other wireless railway signalling systems in existence, VLS utilises "off-the-shelf" hardware together with commercial mobile phone networks to transmit encrypted messages between the signalling control centre and trains.  These messages are then decoded to generate in-cab signals to the driver.  No lineside infrastructure is required for the system other than RFID tags positioned on the track, which are used by the train to verify its position.  The system eliminates the need for lineside signals and avoids the use of expensive copper cabling which is prone to theft.

In order for VLS to move towards practical implementation, Frazer-Nash will be supporting Park Signalling by reviewing and advising on the safety integrity of the system. The safety engineering contribution from Frazer-Nash has been a key factor in winning the award.

John Slinn, Managing Director at Park Signalling said. 'Park Signalling is honoured by the industry recognition for the Virtual Lineside Signalling concept and grateful to RIA and RSSB for making it possible to fund the further development of VLS with Frazer-Nash.' 

Richard Jones, Rail Industry Business Manager at Frazer-Nash said, 'We are very pleased that the judges recognised the value of Park Signalling's ideas, Frazer-Nash's Safety Engineering input and most importantly, the partnership between the companies. It's been a pleasure to work with Park Signalling through the application process and we look forward to developing a Safety Case which will move VLS a big step closer to coming into use.'

Francis How, Technical Director of the Railway Industry Association, commented, 'This is a good example of the kind of innovative thinking that we seek to encourage through activities such as the competition and our 'Unlocking Innovation' initiative.'