Application of Systems Engineering to Rail Transit System Upgrades - It's Not Rocket Science

There are many existing transit agencies around the world that are embarking on, or are planning, comprehensive programs of system upgrades. The goals of these programs include: (1) achieving a state-of-good-repair; (2) providing enhanced safety and security for passengers and staff; (3) increasing the passenger-carrying capacity on the network; (4) improving service reliability and dependability; and (5) reducing ongoing system operating and maintenance costs. Such programs may include, for example, the procurement of new railcars, upgrades to the signaling, traction power and communications systems, the implementation of new control center facilities, station/platform modifications, changes to track layouts, and the introduction of new fare collection systems. To ensure a major system upgrade program of this nature is successfully implemented on schedule and within budget, and meets the overall program goals, the specification, integration and coordination of these multiple individual projects is critical. This paper describes the basic Systems Engineering principles, processes and tools that can provide an interdisciplinary methodology to fully capture and document the strategic requirements for planned system upgrades, and to trace these requirements through successive levels of system and subsystem specification and implementation. While the rail transit industry has been relatively successful in implementing new, “green field”, transit projects over the years, the industry has been less successful in implementing major upgrades to existing rail transit operating systems, specifically upgrades involving the introduction of the newer transit technologies. This paper attempts to answer why this has been the case by providing an historical perspective of the application of Systems Engineering principles to both new start and system upgrade projects - a perspective that reflects the author’s experiences and “lessons learned” from various rail transit projects around the world. This paper concludes that Systems Engineering in rail transit is neither “new” nor “complicated”, but achieving the benefits of a Systems Engineering approach on a major system upgrade program does require a fundamental change to an agency’s culture and organization for such programs.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: CD-ROM
  • Features: Figures;
  • Pagination: 8p
  • Monograph Title: Rail Conference 2009 Proceedings

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01157794
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 2 2010 11:04AM