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In a far away Country

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Nick W

Established Member
5 Nov 2005
Once upon a time, in a country far away, a transport director summoned two of his advisors for a test. He show them a shiny new train, consisting of two power cars and a rake of 8 coaches. "What do you think this is?"
One advisor answered first, "This is a high speed train."
The transport director asked, "How would you design a control system for it?".

The first advisior said, "Using the current tried and tested electronics such as relays which would interface with a driving cab and control the 2 efficient diesel power cars. The driver would follow current rules and signals and control the speed of the train and stop it at stations using his knowledge and skill. As this train's brakes would be superior the train can safely travel a bit faster. However it still relies on convential signalling so I suggest a reasonable speed of 125mph. The train doors would use a reliable hinge and a lock operated by a guard, would make sure the pasengers were secure."

The second advisor, immediately recognized the danger of such short-sighted thinking. He said, "A High Speed Train doesn't just have to be faster than other trains. It needs to beat the speeds of speeding drivers. As speedings become prominant, trains will need faster speeds. They will need a train that can zoom along the railway at speeds above 140 mph. A train that only goes 125mph will soon be obselete. If we don't look to the future this train will be replaced in a few years."

"In order to achieve such speed we need a more intelligent solution. Firstly, in order to zoom out of stations we need guzzling diesel engine under every coach. Secondly, the trains must tilt at every bend. We will place expensive technology on the track, to make trains tilt. Thirdly, we will replace the signalling with a new computer controlled signalling that will make the train drive itself."

"In order for people to join and alight, a sopisticated control system will make an extra step fold out to be nearer the platform. The door will automatically open and close, and more electronics will be made for safety. I suggest that an appropriate control system would use lots of high performance PCs. 10GHZ AMD chips will be required, because at high speeds, Intel chips would have to address the memory via the motherboard and this would mean they wouldn't read the instructions in time for signalling decisions. 20GB of ram would be uesd to store details about every train on the line. In order to store all the speed limits and stopping locations, a registry would be used. To control the trains a web interface would be used."

"Naturally, there would be many problems if no maintenance was performed. Every time the trains are retimetabled, a registry clean up would need to be run to flush out the old timetable. To stop dissidents from messing with the train, a firewall would be used. Finally, a spyware scan would run to make sure other TOCs did not place tracking devices on the train."

The director immediately sacked the second advisor who would later form DfT.
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