Rail supervision


Heudiasyc has installed two platforms devoted to rail applications, to assist its research on dependability and analysis of the human factor:

  • a rail supervision simulator

  • a train operation simulator compliant with the European ERTMS/ECMS signalling norms

The team's research centres around the analysis of human factors (supervisor and train operator behaviour). PhD candidates make use of the platforms to further their various research projects, some in relation to the human factor and human-machine relations.

Training in simulator use is offered to rail professionals pursuing a vocational master's degree. In addition, Heudiasyc's rail supervision platforms receive numerous visits from industry and academia, by people eager to learn more about this valuable resource.

The platform is thus used for both research and education. The simulators can be used to validate scenarios that have been identified in theory by dependability analyses of sociotechnical systems.

Our partners

  • CNRS
  • Université de Technologie de Compiègne
  • Hauts-de-France administrative region
  • European Union
  • IFSTTAR (Institut Français des Sciences et Technologies des Transports, de l'Aménagement et des Réseaux), which possesses the same ERTMS/ETCS simulator as ours. The two simulators can be connected for cooperative simulations in supervision tests involving a number of distributed PCCs and RBCs
  • LAMIH (Laboratoire d'Automatique, de Mécanique et d'Informatique Industrielles et Humaines - Université de Valenciennes et du Hainaut-Cambrésis): joint research projects (PhD theses)
  • ANSALDO STS: international market leader in rail signalling and integrated systems for passenger and freight transport. Ansaldo supplied our rail supervision simulator and plays an active teaching role in our rapid transit and rail master's degree.
  • ERSA: software engineering company specializing in ERTMS/ETCS solutions for simulation, training, research and demonstration, both on-board and trackside. ERSA supplied our ERTMS/ETCS simulator.
ERTMS/ETCS Operational Simulator

The ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) train operation simulator was developed by the ERSA software engineering company. It comprises a scenario control station and four driver stations, two of which have dual 3D displays. It is rare for any research laboratory or university to have more than one or two driver stations. Consequently, the Heudiasyc simulator, which allows up to four train operators to simultaneously take part in a scenario, is among the most significant academic rail simulators in Europe.

DMI ETCS (Driver-Machine Interface)

The ERTMS/ETCS system is compliant with Baseline 2 of the European Commission's ERTMS/ETCS norm. The simulator reproduces ECTS (European Train Control System) cabin signal displays on a DMI (Display Machine Interface), just as they would be displayed in an ERTMS-equipped train.

ETCS Curves

The simulator's ETCS system has a module for displaying speed profile curves, meaning that changes in speed computed for a given authorized movement can be visualized graphically. It is also possible to visualize RBC logs. (Real ETCSs do not offer these displays.)

ERTMS supervision display

The scenario control station is used for:

  • creating track layouts for scenarios
  • defining series of events constituting scenarios 
  • supervising the movement of trains as scenarios are played out

Track layouts for scenarios are completely configurable with respect to their characteristics (length, track type, number of parallel tracks, bends, speed profiles, electrification, types of light signals, side panels, etc.) and to their environment (number of stations, type of environment (rural, urban, forest, etc.)). Likewise, the characteristics of trains featuring in scenarios are configurable (weight, acceleration, braking, inertia, length, electrification, etc.). Scenarios may be played out entirely manually (supervision, reservation of cantons, movement authorizations, train operation), or automatically (whether totally or partially). In the case of automatic scenarios, a timetable is required.

3D rendering

To obtain the most realistic simulation possible, the platform is equipped with two stations capable of rendering scenes in 3D. As scenarios play out, these two stations display the view from the cabin of one of the trains involved. An independent view that can be piloted using a keyboard is also available.

RCCS Simulator (Route Control Center System)

The rail supervision simulator, or RCCS (Route Control Centre System) was developed by Ansaldo STS. It is a faithful reproduction of the rail control centre at Ashford in south east England that supervises rail traffic on the High Speed One line between London St Pancras and Eurotunnel.

The simulator comprises five workstations:

  • a simulation control station 
  • two signaller (or switching) interfaces 
  • a supervisor interface 
  • a maintenance interface

These stations are all linked to a virtual machine that emulates the server in operation at Ashford.

Signaler interface, Saint Pancras station

The two signaller stations present a detailed view of all the events on the line. The signallers control the itineraries reserved for individual trains and the position of each one, as well as all the track, signals, points, occupation of platforms, etc. The reservation of itineraries is managed automatically by the ARS (Automatic Route Setting) system, according to train schedules (times, types, stops, etc.), but the operators can intervene manually at any moment.

Saint-Pancras Station, detailled view
Signaler interface, Startford International station
Supervisor interface (Timetable)

The supervisor interface (or timetable) offers a complete picture of rail traffic, both spatially and temporally. The graphic displayed is generated in relation to the day of operation. The factor that makes managing this line particularly complex is that it is used by both high-speed Eurostars (pink lines) and slower suburban trains (blue lines). Train itineraries may be displayed and quickly modified via this interface, all modifications being transmitted to the ARS system.

Maintener screen

The maintenance interface displays all alerts relating to the operation of equipment and of the system, such as failures of points or signals, failures to communicate with trains, etc.

Viewer screen with ERTMS simulation (4 trains)
Viewer screen with RCCS simulation

All interfaces from either of the simulators can be displayed on a high-quality Barco visual display, of the kind that is to be found in major rail control centres. Two display servers combine the displays generated by different sources on a video wall (dimensions, positions).

3D and DMI displays, corresponding to the different trains involved in a train operation scenario (ERTMS/ETCS simulator), can therefore be monitored simultaneously.

The same multi-display capability applies equally to rail supervision simulations (RCCS simulator). Being able to offer the same operating environment as in a large rail control centre is something that sets Heudiasyc apart from other laboratories performing similar research.


Scientific advisor
Walter Schön
Phone : 03 44 23 44 83 | Contact by email

Technical advisor
Yohan Bouvet
Phone : 03 44 23 79 93 | Contact by email

To learn more