Development of a New National Train Control Centre
The National Train Control Centre (NTCC) will be Iarnród Éireann’s centre for the management and regulation of train movements on the Iarnród Éireann network. The centre will also provide real-time customer information at stations on our website and social media platforms.
The existing Iarnród Éireann central train control centre is due for replacement due to capacity constraints with the IT systems nearing life expiration.
A modern replacement National Train Control Centre will enable the integration of signalling and communications control across the entire Iarnród Éireann network, making our rail traffic management more efficient. . A significant customer benefit of the new NTCC will be increased train performance and the availability of up to the minute accurate real-time travel information for trip planning.
Funding for the implementation phase of the National Train Control Centre is being provided by the Government of Ireland (through the National Transport Authority) as part of Project Ireland 2040.
The existing Iarnród Éireann Centralised Traffic Control centre (CTC) is located in Connolly Station and dates from the 1970’s, with a significant extension in the 1980’s to facilitate control of the DART. As Iarnród Éireann has replaced and upgraded its track, signalling and communications infrastructure the workload has increased on the existing CTC and it is now operating at capacity and with aged technology. At present approximately 75% of the rail network (approximately 1500km) is controlled from the existing centre. The remaining 25% is controlled at a number of local locations throughout the network and cannot be integrated with the existing CTC due to the capacity constraints.
The NTCC will provide the following benefits:
- It will accommodate capacity growth on the existing and future network, including the DART expansion programme.
- All traffic control can be integrated in a single location, using a modern Traffic Management System.
- Obsolescence issues facing the existing train control infrastructure will be resolved.
- Heavy rail traffic control will be optimised across the Iarnród Éireann network.
- The full benefits of investment in track, signalling and communications infrastructure over the past decade will be realised when the entire network is controlled from a single location.
- The replacement centre will be future proofed to allow for the integration of planned and potential network infrastructure developments and improvements on the heavy rail network.
- The existing CTC at Connolly station will be retained and developed into a back-up centre.
- The new centre will incorporate an emergency strategic command centre for co-ordinating inter-departmental response to an emergency event.
This will also benefit the Iarnród Éireann customer as follows:
- It will deliver a common source of information accessible to all stakeholders, improving the provision of Customer Information Services to the travelling public.
- The control of the entire network from a single location will lead to improvements in the management of service disruptions, reducing the impact to passengers;
- The new Traffic Management System will provide tools to facilitate conflict free train service delivery, recovery and incident management which will deliver travel time savings to Iarnród Éireann customers.
A multi-criteria location appraisal was undertaken in late 2016, which identified Heuston Station as the preferred location for the new facility.
A section 5 application was prepared and submitted to Dublin City Council. This was approved in the summer of 2017 and confirmed that the facility is exempt from planning permission.
A business case was prepared and reviewed by the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport, and also the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and in 2019 it was been deemed to be compliant with the Common Appraisal Framework.
The National Transport Authority has requested that Iarnród Éireann facilitate the co-location of the metropolitan traffic unit of An Garda Síochána (AGS) plus the traffic control arrangements operated by Dublin City Council (DCC) into the NTCC. Locating key parts of the control system for transport in one building is a unique opportunity to dramatically enhance the integration of transport for the overall benefit of the greater Dublin region.
The preliminary design of the facility was undertaken in 2018 and the detailed design of the new NTCC is now complete, incorporating An Garda Síochána and Dublin City Council’s requirements. The procurement process to appoint a contractor will commence in mid- 2019. The building will be constructed to comply with Near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) standards. It is planned that the construction of the facility will be complete by the end of 2021. Fit out and commissioning of the systems will then commence by Iarnród Éireann, An Garda Siochna and Dublin City Council.
A series of enabling works are currently underway, including the removal of some existing sidings. These works will prepare the site for the main construction works.
A significant number of existing legacy signalling, telecommunication and electrification systems will be required to interface to the new Traffic Management System. These interfaces will be developed with the Traffic Management System supplier, and works will be undertaken to reconfigure the existing systems.
A tender process for the procurement of the new Traffic Management System was undertaken in 2019. A contract will be awarded to purchase the new system in 2019. It is anticipated that the design, development, fabrication, installation, testing and commissioning and safety approvals for the main system at Heuston will be completed in 2023, with the development of a back-up centre following.
For More Information on the project please contact:
Programme Manager, Railway Systems