Going underground

30 June 2009

A wide-ranging information system, based on a SCADA platform, has recently been implemented across parts of the London Underground boosting control, improving safety and providing superior communications.

Telent was awarded a contract to provide a life communications and maintenance solution for Tube Lines, the company responsible for the maintenance, service and upgrade of the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly London Underground lines. The company recently drafted in the services of Amey, a design and asset management consultancy to help it implement a solution.

Tube Lines is responsible for more than 200 miles of track, 255 trains, 100 stations and more than 2,500 bridges, lifts and escalators spread over the three lines. It wanted a management system that would monitor and control public address (PA) and security systems, as well as passenger help points and visual information display subsystems throughout its stations and provide SCADA monitoring. It turned to telent with a six-year modernisation programme, covering 74 stations and a 13 year multi-million pound maintenance contract. telent is a systems integrator that supplies network and communications services across a variety of industries.

Martin Morgan, engineering director at telent, said the company implemented its MICA (Management Integration & Control of Assets) management system at the heart of each station. ‘In essence this controls and monitors all the assets at the station, whether that be CCTV, PA, help points or traditional SCADA,’ he said, adding that MICA was built up around Codra’s Panorama E² product.

Panorama software provides tools for real-time industrial SCADA applications and was created in France by Codra. Panorama is supplied in the UK by Codra Software Limited. Morgan said the choice of Panorama was based on proven applications. ‘We chose Codra’s product because it was a proven robust solution that had been used in various industries including the nuclear industry in France and on the French underground. So we’re using an established product that we could build upon with confidence,’ he explained.

‘Panorama provides the core components that we then built on to deliver the application for the end user,’ continued Morgan. ‘It provides an open standards based solution based on OPC and offers a mechanism for developing a solution in a quick and cost effective manner.’

Panorama E², within the MICA system, integrates, manages and supervises the operational systems in each underground station. A single interface enables users to manage alarms, events and data acquisition. All operator actions and data changes are saved in an historical database.

All the mimics of the various applications are analysed and organised into one standard interface. This is designed to make it easier for operators to understand and use the system. A toolbar at the top of the screen controls overall navigation. Graphical images appear on the left, text information on the right and alarms at the bottom.

Touchscreens providing 3D views are installed in each station’s control room. Users can zoom in on each station and each section within that station.

More than 9,000 autonomous video surveillance cameras are installed in the underground stations, recording one frame per second, 24 hours a day. If necessary, operators can trigger real-time recording at 50 frames a second. Operators can also search the database over the past 14 days.

The Panorama E² interface manages automatic messages to make voice announcements via the PA system in any station. Standard phrase sequences have been pre-programmed, and operators can easily assemble customised voice messages. They select the start, middle and end of the message, click a button and play the message over the PA system. This is designed to provide passengers with reliable information in real time to ensure their safety.

In addition to the upgrade programme telent also provides on-going maintenance, available to Tube Lines 24 hours a day, and regular system performance reviews.

telent claims to have managed to consistently improve year-on-year performance on the Jubilee line and says it has driven fault levels down significantly.

Morgan said telent would continue to work with Codra in the future, via its MICA management platform, adding that Codra was a key to MICA’s success.

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