Over the years, the Train Information System (TIS) has emerged as a vital tool for real-time monitoring of European trains, gaining recognition across the European Railways landscape, now counting 4.000 regular users, and covering about 30.000 trains per day from 350 railway companies. 5 million TAF/TAP messages are exchanged per day, and real-time exchange has been established between 70 rail companies so far.
As the demand for train performance reports continues to rise, the need for reliable data becomes paramount to ensure the production of consistent reports. With these two dimensions in mind, RNE’s Members, in collaboration with RNE Joint Office staff, developed a new TIS Data Quality Strategy. This strategy was approved by the RNE General Assembly in 2020, with a clear vision of RNE becoming a reliable and respected international reports provider and European train running data warehouse, based on commonly agreed principles and procedures without extra manual efforts, with clear topology, descriptions, and rules.
Defining Key Guidelines
Since 2020, two projects have been undertaken in close cooperation between performance experts and RNE, resulting in the approval of key guidelines by the RNE General Assembly. Additionally, a third project is currently underway to implement the TIS data quality process among RNE Members.
Fundamental Principles for Data Transfer
The initial step in this journey involved defining the fundamental principles for data transfer to TIS. The first TIS Data Quality project focused on this goal and resulted in the publication of a handbook titled ‘RNE Guidelines: Basic Requirements on TIS Data for Reporting Purposes’. This handbook outlines the messages that should be sent by the Infrastructure Managers (IMs) to TIS, as well as the procedures for train linking and border section areas.
Ensuring Commitment and Monitoring Data Quality
Following the establishment of the main requirements and procedures for data providers, a second project was launched to ensure commitment and monitor data quality. The objectives of this project were to secure data providers’ commitment to transmit data according to the handbook’s procedures, define a method for monitoring data quality and data provider compliance, and develop additional tools and reports to support the process.
Involvement of RNE Members
The involvement of RNE members was pivotal to the project’s success at this stage. In 2022, a TIS Data Quality guidebook titled ‘RNE Handbook on Management of Data Quality for Train Performance Analysis’ was created, and a Data Quality Expert Group was formed to work regularly with RNE on TIS data quality improvement. This group played a crucial role in developing key data quality indicators and creating the necessary tools and reports to assess and improve data quality.
Commitment to the RNE Declaration
The commitment of all RNE members to the ‘RNE Declaration on the use of TIS as a supporting tool for European traffic management and reporting purposes’ was equally important. RNE Members embraced this proclamation, expressing their dedication to achieving the goals of the RNE TIS Data Quality Strategy and actively engaging in the data quality improvement process.
Data Quality Roadshow
Recognising the significance of IMs’ involvement, it became clear in the course of 2022 that an extra effort was required to ensure the required attention to this topic. Consequently, a Data Quality Roadshow was launched to introduce the RNE TIS Data Quality approach to the IM’s High-Level Management representatives and garner their support for the necessary steps their companies needed to take. Further information on the Data Quality Roadshow meetings can be found in the RNE News section.
In 2023, the implementation phase commenced with more than 80% of the IMs providing data to TIS participating, aided by the solid foundation established by the strategy. The implementation stage began with a data quality training session, which discussed data reports, tools, and how to use them effectively to detect missing data and improve data quality. The Data Quality Expert Group now holds monthly online meetings to track activities and meets up to four times a year for all-day events aimed at achieving high data quality.
The journey of enhancing TIS data quality and ensuring reliable reports has been a collaborative effort driven by RNE and its Members. Through the development and implementation of the TIS Data Quality Strategy, key guidelines have been established, commitment has been fostered, and tools have been created to monitor and improve data quality. The active involvement of RNE members and their dedication to the goals outlined in the RNE TIS Data Quality Declaration have been instrumental in the success of this initiative. By prioritising data quality and fostering cooperation, RNE and its Members are paving the way for a more reliable and efficient TIS system, benefiting the entire European rail industry and supporting effective traffic management.