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Train crews provide reports in real time

Correct and timely information is often of key importance to passengers. And this is the case not just for closures and extraordinary events.

ČD train crews are not omniscient, however, so they need the help of technology. The portable ticketing devices which they carry are receiving new software – unique in Europe – which will display operational reports automatically and in real time.

Vlakové čety podávají zprávy v přímém přenosuThe era when train crews could only obtain information in person or by telephone is now in the distant past. And ČD is responding to the development of information technology as well. Using a range of modern communication methods (eShop, mobile web), it has made possible the transfer of important operational information for passengers with the help of data flows into its own systems as well. The latest innovation is a project to transfer the most important information on extraordinary events and closures directly to the portable electronic ticketing devices (POP) carried by all train crews.

Up-to-date reports save time

Until now, train crews have been dependent on information obtained by telephone from dispatchers or on the contents of text messages sent to ČD mobile telephones, which – due to their 160-character limit – have proved less than entirely sufficient for such purposes. “The goal of the newly introduced system is to provide information to every member of the train crew as quickly as possible, but at the same time not to burden them with information that does not concern the train which they are operating. The information is thus sent from the internal MIMO system over a GSM network and filtered so that the correct information reaches each individual train. The employee still has access to the complete database of closures and extraordinary events, however, so he can also respond to a passenger query concerning another line and train, for example after a transfer,” explains Roman Menc from the Department of Marketing and Communications at ČD’s General Directorate, who participated in the project’s development.

The communicated information is divided into two main categories. The basic type comprises reports on planned closures resulting from construction work for which specific restrictions and countermeasures are known. The other type constitutes information about unplanned extraordinary events arising during the train’s journey, which usually have a far greater impact on passengers and which cannot be prepared for. “These reports are sent in the same manner, but their contents are updated by passenger transport dispatchers so that the information reaches train crews without delay. While this approach entails entering data into the system manually, it also reduces the volume of telephone communication which can consume valuable time and burden the telephone lines during a crisis situation,” says ČD Chief Dispatcher Lukáš Zástěra.

Technology will develop further

Every fifteen minutes, the portable ticketing device automatically checks to see whether a new report has been issued; this interval will be gradually reduced to five minutes after the transition from the pilot regime to the test regime. “The device indicates a new report both visually and acoustically, but this doesn’t interrupt on-going processes such as issuing tickets or creating train documentation,” emphasises Roman Menc. The system, which was developed over roughly four months, was put into test operation at the beginning of March 2013, and is presently transitioning into routine use. The functionalities were verified by train crews operating out of the regional train crew centres (RCVD) in Cheb, Bohumín and Olomouc in cooperation with supervisors, and no problems have arisen thus far. But the possibilities of the portable ticketing device and the MIMO system are still far from being exhausted.

What the POP’s new functionalities can do

  • Provide information on all planned closures.
  • Receive reports from dispatchers about unplanned extraordinary events in real time.
  • Provide access to the database of all countermeasures on ČD lines.
  • Provide updates on the state of extraordinary events and anticipate how they will be addressed.


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