setec has created a tool for simulating the benefits of an automatic train supervision (ATS) system on a saturated rail line


setec teams have developed innovative software for measuring the quality of service impact of automatic train operator (ATO) or automatic train supervision (ATS) systems on an existing train line that is close to saturation. This tool uses an innovative statistical approach, as explained here.

Urban and suburban train lines are increasingly saturated. setec has shown how an existing train line, close to saturation, can gather significant benefits from measuring the quality of service impact when introducing ATO or ATS systems.

Innovative methodology

setec’s dynamic macroscopic simulation tool is based on repeatedly playing out a statistical scenario with random data generated from live operations.

The following circumstances are taken into account:

  • Delays and passenger flow. The simulation combines a passenger flow model to calculate how long a train will stay on the platform, taking into account the accumulated effects of each train: when a train is late, more passengers gather on the platform, which increases the time required for them to get on or off and therefore amplifies the delay in a snowball effect. This modelling seems essential to highlight the benefits of automated train supervision.
  • Disruptions. The minimal intervals between stations found in simulations of typical routes are used to forecast disruptions at different stations and junction conflicts.
  • Variations in driver behaviour is also taken into account.
  • Rail traffic control. The simulation integrates a traffic control model, which takes input from known train schedules (real schedules and the difference with theoretical schedules) and acts on the platform and journey times, depending on the ATS algorithms implemented.

A decision-making tool for project owners


The research results demonstrate the benefits of introducing an automated system (ATO or ATS), depending on the type of signalling in use (luminous automatic blocks or communications-based train control).

This simulation can be carried out on any network when reliable data is available on key performance indicators, as is the case of mature networks.

Measuring the impact and operating costs of an ATO and an ATS helps project owners take smart decisions on their investments.