Almost 4,000 SNCB passenger trains travel through our country every day. A lot of (real-time) data is needed to make that traffic as smooth as possible. As SNCB’s IT company, Ypto plays a major role in this. There are currently several distinct applications to collect and provide this data. All of them operate independently of each other, which makes it more difficult to detect conflicts and undermines the efficiency of these applications.

Ypto will soon offer a new advanced tool to bring together data from all applications that were previously entirely separate. Not only is the application more user-friendly and has a more modern look and feel, but it also allows SNCB collaborators who need it to have access to all the data in a single place. That tool is the Advanced Train Management System. It has been developed in our Solution Delivery Trains, Stations & Planning department, more specifically in the Traffic Management team.

Fewer train delays

What is the real-time composition of the train? Who is the train driver? What is their material and line knowledge? SNCB collaborators can currently find this information and much more in the Passengerweb application. “In itself, it is a useful tool, but there is still much room for improvement,” says Nastassia Gumuchdjian, Technical Product Manager. “In addition to Passengerweb, there are a number of other applications and data sources (Rocit, Livemap, eDrive, etc.) that do not necessarily communicate with each other. It is therefore not possible to transfer a problem that is visible in one application to another application. Collaborators have to call each other to check whether the information they have matches that of another colleague. This makes incident resolution difficult and inefficient and results in delays or even cancellations of trains,” explains Nastassia. “That is why we are implementing a new, more advanced tool that brings together the data from all those applications. Thanks to this new tool, workflow management will be more efficient in the future. Right decisions will be taken more quickly because colleagues will have the same data and will no longer waste time calling each other.”

More user-friendliness

“The user-friendliness of all those different applications is not optimal,” adds Sebastien Jongen, Project Manager. “Many clicks are needed to find information and the layout is outdated. The new ATM system has a night display and a nicer layout, on top of being available in three languages. In addition, the system works with personal accounts, allowing us to customise the main page per user or account through filters. For example, not everyone needs to be notified of an incident in Ghent. This information is only shown to people working in that area.”

To create the user-friendly layout, the project team gets valuable help from the UX team (User Experience).

“To realise this project, we are in regular contact with the end users,” says Leentje Verstraete, Application Analyst in the UX team. “For example, we organise workshops to get to know their needs and to check whether what we have designed meet them. We also regularly consult the developers to examine together the possibilities and their feasibility. This collaboration is really necessary given the complexity of the tools we are designing for ATMS.”

“In the new ATM system, fewer clicks are needed to obtain data, so it is displayed much faster,” says Nastassia. “For example, you can easily search for a station in the tool and get an overview of all the trains that stop at that station, and see which trains have been cancelled, what their composition is, who the driver and manager are, and so on. This data is immediately visible, so you do not have to click to see it.”

When you do click on a particular train, you see even more details, such as track changes, delays, all the drivers and managers who are working or have been working on that train, their telephone numbers and even the kind of driving licence they have.

The composition of the train is also visible in a much clearer way in the form of a passenger car diagram.

Soon for the entire SNCB

“The technical release has now taken place,” says Sebastien Jongen, Project Manager. “Soon, this system will be put into production for a limited target group before being deployed for the entire SNCB. After that, other functions will be added (such as incident and workflow management and more advanced conflict detection).”

When the DITA (a programme for train managers) goes live, this data will also be available in the ATM tool. This concerns the train managers’ performance sheets and the identity of the manager of a particular train.

A step closer to fulfilling our mission

This new tool brings us one step closer to achieving our mission. It improves SNCB’s real-time operations as the link between the different data and the greater user-friendliness will reduce delays and the number of cancelled trains.

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