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Integrated Electronic Control Centre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

IECC trackerball and associated buttons used for route setting
IECC trackerball and associated buttons used for route setting

The Integrated Electronic Control Centre (IECC) was developed in the late 1980s by the British Rail Research Division for UK-based railway signalling centres, although variations exist around the world. It is the most widely deployed VDU based signalling control system in the UK, with over 50 workstations in control centres that manage many of the most complex and busy areas of the network.

IECC consists of a number of operator’s workstations with VDU/LCD displays which depict the control area and is semi-automatic using Automatic Route Setting (ARS) - a computer based route setting system driven from a pre-programmed timetable database. ARS can also handle severely disrupted service patterns and assist the signaller in the event of train or infrastructure failures.

IECCs were developed as an alternative to the traditional switch or button panel control, which in turn replaced mechanical lever frames. From the start, they controlled Solid State Interlockings (SSIs), a software version of the traditional relay interlocking, but existing relay interlockings may also be controlled from an IECC. The system can control as many miles of track as required, but typically around 50–100 miles.

Recently, PC-based control systems, similar to the IECC have been developed and are sold by various signalling contractors, e.g. Westinghouse Rail Systems WESTCAD.

Early history

The concept of IECC was developed at the Railway Technical Centre in Derby during the 1980s, and in particular the initial software for ARS and SSI. A contract for the development of an operational standard system was let in January 1987 to CAP Group, including the supply of a complete system for Yoker (Glasgow) and the ARS for the Waterloo area. This was the first time a software house became involved in railway signalling after competing against the main incumbent suppliers of GEC-General Signal and Westinghouse Signals Ltd. The solution used off-the-shelf microcomputer technology (Motorola 68000 microprocessors and VME Bus) to host the sub-systems of IECC in high availability configurations linked via a duplicated Nine Tiles Superlink local area network. Subsequent contracts were let to CAP Group (became Sema Group in 1988) for further operational IECC systems involving the supply of turnkey hardware and software. These included the first IECC to go live at Liverpool Street in Easter 1989 quickly followed by York.[1]

Later developments

As a result of UK railway privatisation in the mid-1990s, British Rail Research was bought by AEA Technology Rail, who took over the supply of new IECCs, support for the existing installed base, and enhancements to the hardware and software.[2] In 2006, the AEA rail business became DeltaRail (now called Resonate Group Ltd), who have developed IECC Scalable which replicates all the functionality of the original IECC on a modern hardware platform and software architecture. Following a successful 6-month trial at Swindon B in 2012, IECC Scalable is now the standard for new installations, starting with Cambridge where it controls the Ely-Norwich line which has been resignalled on the "modular signalling" concept for secondary routes.

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/2
    1 124 903
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  • ✪ Controlling Trains - Network Rail engineering education (3 of 15)
  • ✪ Integrated Manufacturing Centre - Durham College


[train passing] ♪ pizzicato background music ♪ (Narrator) Britain's rail network transports 3 million passengers and 400,000 tonnes of freight a day. With hundreds of trains using it at any one time. All this traffic presents us with a safety challenge. Trains are guided by rails, so it's impossible for them to swerve or pull over. Trains are heavy, can't stop quickly and frequently operate at speeds which do not enable them to halt within sighting distance of the driver. Under these circumstances, one might assume that trains are prone to collision. In fact, rail is the safest mode of transport in Britain. And that's because trains are carefully controlled. Hence our responsibility at Network Rail to control them. Signalling is the control process Network Rail uses to operate trains safely, over the correct route and to the proper time-table. The two key features of this process are line-side signals and the block system. Trains can't collide if they're not permitted to occupy the same section of track at the same time. So the network is divided into sections known as "blocks". Normally, only one train is permitted in each block at any one time. The British rail network uses line-side signals to advise the driver of the status of the section of track ahead. Most line-side signals are in colour light form, but a significant number of semaphore signals remain on secondary lines. The semaphore consists of a mechanical arm that raises to signify go or lowers into the horizontal to signify stop. The most modern signals have 4 colour aspects. A green light indicates clear. A double yellow indicates that the next signal will be a caution. The yellow signal indicates caution, and that the next signal will be red. And a red means stop, otherwise known as danger. It's prohibited to pass a signal at danger. The British rail network was originally controlled by thousands of manned signal boxes located at regular intervals along the lines. ♪ guitar background music ♪ (Stewart) My name's Stewart Sentence, I'm the signaller at Uttoxeter signal box. This is the most traditional form of system on the railway as it is at the moment. A lot of this, as you see, goes back to when the original railway started. As far as we're concerned the universe begins at Caverswall over to the right and Sudbury there and we're in the middle. This set of blocks tells me where the train is between myself and Caverswall, and this set of blocks tell me where the train is between Sudbury and myself. These levers here will operate the points for the crossings into the loops and sidings. They'll also work the semaphore signals. (Narrator) To prevent a collision caused by human error, the safety system called "interlocking" protects the railway network. Interlocking is a series of mechanical devices that prevents the signaller operating appliances in an unsafe sequence. (Stewart) What you have here is what looks like a simple lever system but is actually, if you looked underneath the box, is quite a complicated interlocking system. The interlocking system prevents me giving a green signal to an approaching train unless I set that route in that interlocking system safely first. It sounds simple and it basically works simple but the action what it does is very good. (Narrator) Level frame signal boxes, while effective, aren't efficient. They only cover a short section of line and manning them with skilled operators is expensive. (Stewart) Now I can pull the signals off No. 2. [loud click] Some of these you'll see me pulling quite 'ard; that's because there's a lot of gape on these. Some people can't actually pull 'em at all. Well a lot of it's fairly hands on. You see the trains, you've got control over the trains and the job itself. It's a good job; a better job as I've ever 'ad. Without a doubt. [clank] [train passes rapidly] (Narrator) The next big leap in rail signalling control came with the electronic age and the advent of Power Signal control Boxes like this one in Derby. ♪ 60s electronic background music ♪ (Signaller) This location opened in 1969, and when it did open it represented a massive step forward to the railways in the way that trains are signalled. Well, these lines represent mainly the Derby to Birmingham main lines. This signal box actually took over 84 mechanical signal boxes, making it a far more efficient way of carrying out signalling. (Narrator) Routes are set by pressing buttons on a large control panel. Each section between buttons represents a stretch of line formerly controlled by a lever framed signal box. (Signaller) It's very easy to work around. The signalling system is very user friendly and very easy to see the layout of the trains and where they're coming from and going to. The presence of a train is indicated by these red lights on the panel. They're activated by the completion of an electrical circuit when the train's wheels pass over the track circuit. The operation of the signalling equipment is carried out by pulling and pushing the actual buttons that are set in the panel. To set a route you press the entrance button, you press the exit button and the signalling system between detects all equipment that's located between the two signals. Once that's in the correct position, the signal will clear for the train to proceed. To take the route out, we simply pull the exit button and the route will drop out. (Narrator) Power Signal Boxes are regulated by a relay room, a little like a giant mechanical computer. (Signaller) This is the interlocking room, underneath the operating floor of the Power Signal Box. And in 'ere are all the banks of relays. And these relays relay all of the information from the touches of the buttons upstairs from the signaller outside to the points and the track circuits and the level crossings. (Narrator) Relays are interlocking electro-mechanical switches. When the signaller sets a route in the upstairs control room, you can hear the switches clicking, working out how to set the signals and switches and crossings and whether the set route is safe. [clicking] (Signaller) These cabinets are where the equipment in Derby PSB reach the modern era. These allow transmission of the train head code, the four-digit running number that we saw on the panels upstairs to be transmitted to adjacent signal boxes to give them advanced notification of that train coming so that train can be routed further down the line. (Narrator) Powered Signal Boxes are effective and safe. But at Network Rail we're now introducing an even more efficient form of signalling control. ♪ rapid piano background music ♪ (Jason) Compared to the oldest lever box signal boxes, this is a world apart. It's like an Air Traffic Control Centre basically, but controlling trains instead of aeroplanes. My name's Jason Jones, I'm a signaller and I work at Ashford IECC in Kent. The IECC stands for "Integrated Electronic Control Centre". All the signalling in this signalling centre is controlled by computers. A timetable is downloaded every day and any alterations etc. are all programmed into the computer. When everything's running on-time and all the trains are in their correct place and there's nothing else going on, the computers are all running the job and I am literally just sitting here monitoring. Hello John, yeah it's sitting on area 83 Ashford, over. At any time there could be an emergency of any description and that's when I will then step in and take over from the computer. I will turn the computer off and then run the trains manually using the keyboard or the tracker-ball system that we've got. On this screen here I can see the exact layout of the stations and the tracks. I can see where the trains are - where the red line is. Each red line indicates the location of the train. I can see where the trains are heading for (what route they're taking) by the white line. That's what the computer has set up for that train to use. We can also see the signals what the driver sees out on the track. The red dots indicate a signal that's red, we've got a single yellow, we've also got a double yellow. And obviously we've got the green signals which means then he can proceed at line speed. ♪ slower piano background music ♪ The computers that Network Rail uses in this type of location are specifically designed for this type of system. They use various safety protocols, various fail-safes. You get three computers working in tandem with one another and before any decisions are made, two of the computers have to agree with one another. Ashford covers a huge area, right from the Kent coast at Folkstone right the way into Central London. That is the equivalent, yeah, of hundreds of the old style lever frame signal boxes. [train horn] We don't just deal with standard trains here. As well as the commuter trains that we run we also run the high-speed trains into St. Pancras and the Eurostar trains that come from Paris and Brussels. The high speed trains are run using a totally different way of signalling trains than the old-style and conventional signals. The high-speed line is signalled using cab-signalling where the driver gets a display in the cab and that tells him when to stop his train, start his train and what speed he must run at. The trains travel up to 186 mph, and that's just too fast for the driver to be able to see signals out on the track. All the systems, whether you're in a lever box or you're in this type of modern technology it's all designed to fail safe and that is any failures, the signals go back to red. This job carries a lot of responsibility. You are responsible for people's lives on the trains, the public, drivers, track workers. You do have a fair bit of responsibility. No matter how much the technology changes, the one thing that remains the same is the safety and the security of the trains out on the track.

List of IECCs in service as of 1 January 2017

Location IECCs Workstations Area controlled ARS?
Ashford 2 5 Southern Region SE section and High Speed 1 Yes
Cambridge 1 1 Ely to Norwich (exclusive of junctions at either end) No
Edinburgh 4 9 East Coast Main Line, from north of Berwick-upon-Tweed to south of Cupar and Fife Circle Line; also routes towards Glasgow via Falkirk, Bathgate, Shotts and Carstairs. Yes
Harrogate 1 1 Harrogate to Leeds (exclusive) No
Liverpool Street 4 10 Great Eastern Main Line to Marks Tey, Bishop's Stortford/Stansted North Junction/Stansted Airport and branches Yes
Marylebone 1 2 Chiltern lines to Aynho Junction near Banbury Yes
Merseyrail (Sandhills) 1 2 Signalling &
2 CCTV Crossing Keepers
The Merseyrail Northern Lines and Wirral Lines, (except south of Hooton railway station and not between Brunswick and Hunts Cross). Also small parts of Borderlands Line between Bidston railway station and Dee Marsh Junction. Also controls part of the Manchester to Southport Line nearer the Southport end. Yes
Thames Valley Signalling Centre 9 Scalable. 12 Signalling &

1 CCTV Crossing Keeper.

Great Western main line from London Paddington to Bristol Parkway and Temple Meads, Swindon and branches, plus Didcot to Oxford, and Reading to Westbury (exclusive). Yes
Tyneside 2 4 East Coast Main Line, from north of Northallerton to south of Morpeth, and Newcastle to Sunderland including Metro to South Hylton. Yes
Upminster 3 5 London, Tilbury and Southend line and North London line Yes
York 3 7 East Coast Main Line, from north of Doncaster to north of Northallerton and Leeds area Yes

The following installations are not true IECCs of the BR/SEMA/DeltaRail design. They are VDU based signalling control systems with a similar "look and feel" but in most cases they do not incorporate Automatic Route Setting.
Some locations shown below are interim installations which will eventually move into larger signalling control centres, such as Leamington and Madeley, which in time will move to the West Midlands Signalling Centre.

Location Workstations Area controlled ARS? Equipment
Bournemouth 1 Dorset coast No VICOS (Siemens SIMIS - W)
East Midlands Control Centre, Derby 5 Sharnbrook to Spondon, Attenborough to Trent East, Sheet Stores to Stenson Junction, Toton Yard,
Erewash Valley Line, Pinxton Branch, Clay Cross to Tapton, Narborough - Leicester
Yes° WestCAD
Leamington Spa 1 Banbury to Warwick No WestCAD
Madeley (Shropshire) 1 Oxley (exclusive) to Shrewsbury (exclusive) via Telford and Wellington No WestCAD
Marston Vale 2 Fenny Stratford (nr. Bletchley) to Bedford St. Johns No GE MCS
Former Rugby Power Signal Box 1 Formerly controlled Hunsbury Hill (exclusive) to Hillmorton Junction (exclusive) via Northampton.

(The WestCAD controlled the original Solid State Interlocking.)
Control transferred to Rugby SCC on 3 June 2012

No WestCAD
Rugby ROC 1 Stafford Workstation: Penkridge / Milford & Brockton - Basford Hall (exclusive) Yes WestCAD
Rugby Signalling Control Centre 6 West Coast Main Line between Kings Langley (exclusive) and Armitage

also Three Spires Junction (exclusive) to Nuneaton, Arley Tunnel to Hinckley (exclusive) and Brandon to Rugby.
[² Watford Workstation only - on trial]

Yes²* GE MCS
Wembley Mainline Suburban Workstation 1 South Hampstead to Watford Junction DC Lines No* WestCAD
Stoke-on-Trent 3 Armitage to Crewe/Macclesfield (except Stafford station area) No* GE MCS
Colchester PSB 3 Marks Tey - Manningtree, Colchester - Alresford, Alresford - Clacton (Exclusive)/Walton-on-the-Naze No* GE MCS
West Midlands Signalling Centre 4 Jewellery Quarter to Warwick/Stratford-upon-Avon via Birmingham Snow Hill and Brandon/Milverton to Hampton-in-Arden/Three Spires Jn, Wolverhampton North Jn (excl.) to Bilbrook
No WestCAD
West of Scotland ROC (WSROC) 7 Glasgow Central to Rutherglen, East Kilbride, Paisley Canal, Ayr, Largs, Wemyss Bay and Gourock No* GE MCS
Port Talbot 1 Llanharan to Baglan No WestCAD
Abercynon 1 Abercynon to Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare No WestCad
1 x SSI Interlocking
Wales ROC (WROC) 8
1 CCTV Xing Keeper
Ebbw Workstation (Newport - Cardiff Long Dyke) ∞
Newport Workstation (Newport - East Usk) ∞
East Usk Workstation (East Usk - Severn Tunnel) ∞
Severn Tunnel Workstation (Severn Tunnel to Pilning and Awre) ∞
Cardiff VOG (Cardiff - Cowbridge Road and Leckwith - LLantrisant) °
Cardiff Valley (Cardiff Bay - Rhymney) °
Cardiff Main (Cardiff Long Dyke - Leckwith) °
Shrewsbury North (Shrewsbury - Grestly Lane) ∞ ¤ ៛
No ∞
Yes °
5 x WestCad ∞
3 x GE MCS °
13 x Westlock Int
Remote Westrace Int ¤
East London Line Signalling Control Centre 2 Highbury & Islington station to New Cross/New Cross Gate ARF WestCAD
Havant 3 Portsmouth Harbour to Fareham and Rowlands Castle No VICOS (Siemens SIMIS - W)
Saxmundham 1 Oulton Broad South - Westerfield. No GE MCS
Yoker† 2 Glasgow North suburban area Yes GE MCS
York ROC 3 Sheffield
North Lincolnshire
Yes WestCAD

* These systems, which are already in existence, are planned to be upgraded when the supplier's version of ARS has received Network Rail approval.
(WestCAD, Westinghouse Control and Display; GE MCS, General Electric Modular Control System)

° Nottingham, Trent & Burton Workstations now have Hitachi ICS TREsa (ARS+) commissioned.

† As of 2/4/2017, Yoker IECC has been converted to GE MCS with Hitachi ICS TREsa


  1. ^ New generation signalling control centre Beady, F.F.; Bartlett, P.J.N. Main Line Railway Electrification, 1989., International Conference
  2. ^ Signalling Control Centres Today and Tomorrow, Mitchell, I.H., IRSE Proceedings 2002-3

External links

This page was last edited on 22 February 2019, at 11:54
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