Capgemini helping France's railway operator with improvements

04 December 2020 Consultancy.eu
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France’s railway infrastructure is set for a digital makeover: operator SNCF Réseau has partnered with Capgemini to develop a more reliable, data-driven maintenance and supervision system. 

The project is titled Supervision Novelle Génération (new generation supervision), and introduces far-reaching improvements to the railway infrastructure across France. With all its engineering expertise, Capgemini was brought on board in 2017 to help digitalise the maintenance and supervision system – which was officially launched earlier this year.

At the core of the transformation is data – collected from the expansive railway network via geolocation technology and transmitted to a centralised control room for a team of managers and supervisors to analyse. Data can relate to anything, from disruptions on the track, to traffic information such as volume, frequency and delays, among others. 

With all this information flowing in real time, SNCF Réseau can respond immediately by deploying engineers or maintenance professionals when needed, honing in on the person best suited to solve the problem – geographically and in terms of professional expertise. A digital line of communication is open between the staff and the control room, delivering constant guidance on the location and nature of the issue.

Capgemini helping France's railway operator with improvements

Outside of the maintenance & repair sphere, the real-time data facilitates better traffic management, prevents delays and allows clear and precise communication with passengers. Collecting all this data in a centralised location is a “data historian.” Using the data pool, engineers and supervisors can immediately access the history of an issue, making for a quicker and more accurate analysis on the spot.

A success story

What results is a railway model that is efficient, reliable, safe punctual and immediately responsive to any incident. Promising in theory, the new model appears to be successful in practice as well.

“Since the launch of the project, there have been no delays associated with equipment breakdowns. Travelers today have greater confidence than ever before in the safety and certainty of their trips,” noted Olivier Emorine, Managing Director for Digital Engineering & Manufacturing Services at Capgemini.

And it’s not just the customers who are benefitting from the new technology. SNCF Réseau is currently tasked with managing 30,000 kms of railway infrastructure. Until now, control and maintenance of this expansive network has been based on systematic checks using ageing technology.

Now, with the ability to deploy maintenance resources at speed and only when needed, systematic checks and periodic maintenance operations can be scaled back, as can operational and engineering costs. Back-end operations have also undergone digital transformation, featuring real-time visualisations of monitored data, mobile tablets for communication with engineers, and the digitalisation of maintenance & operation reports.

For now, the new technology has only been deployed in the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region, although plans are to move into other regions during 2021 and 2022. The future also appears to hold more innovative potential. As stated by Emorine, Capgemini and SNCF Réseau “will continue to identify new opportunities to utilise new tools and technology to deliver optimal services.”

The digitalisation of railway systems is a rapidly accelerating trend in major markets across the globe. Reliance on railways has far from waned over the years, although most systems are outdated in terms of infrastructure. New technology paves the way to eliminate some of the core issues associated with rail travel – delays, miscommunication and safety. With this realisation spreading far and wide, similar projects are likely to continue emerging in the near future.