Integrated Electronic Control Centre

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IECC trackerball and associated buttons used for route setting

The Integrated Electronic Control Centre (IECC) was developed in the late 1980s by the British Rail Research Division for UK-based railway signalling centres, although variations exist around the world. It is the most widely deployed VDU based signalling control system in the UK, with over 50 workstations in control centres that manage many of the most complex and busy areas of the network.

IECC consists of a number of operator’s workstations with VDU/LCD displays which depict the control area and is semi-automatic using Automatic Route Setting (ARS) - a computer based route setting system driven from a pre-programmed timetable database. ARS can also handle severely disrupted service patterns and assist the signaller in the event of train or infrastructure failures.

IECCs were developed as an alternative to the traditional switch or button panel control, which in turn replaced mechanical lever frames. From the start, they controlled Solid State Interlockings (SSIs), a software version of the traditional relay interlocking, but existing relay interlockings may also be controlled from an IECC. The system can control as many miles of track as required, but typically around 50–100 miles.

Recently, PC-based control systems, similar to the IECC have been developed and are sold by various signalling contractors, e.g. Westinghouse Rail Systems WESTCAD.

Early history

The concept of IECC was developed at the Railway Technical Centre in Derby during the 1980s, and in particular the initial software for ARS and SSI. A contract for the development of an operational standard system was let in January 1987 to CAP Group, including the supply of a complete system for Yoker (Glasgow) and the ARS for the Waterloo area. This was the first time a software house became involved in railway signalling after competing against the main incumbent suppliers of GEC-General Signal and Westinghouse Signals Ltd. The solution used off-the-shelf microcomputer technology (Motorola 68000 microprocessors and VME Bus) to host the sub-systems of IECC in high availability configurations linked via a duplicated Nine Tiles Superlink local area network. Subsequent contracts were let to CAP Group (became Sema Group in 1988) for further operational IECC systems involving the supply of turnkey hardware and software. These included the first IECC to go live at Liverpool Street in Easter 1989 quickly followed by York.[1]

Later developments

As a result of UK railway privatisation in the mid-1990s, British Rail Research was bought by AEA Technology Rail, who took over the supply of new IECCs, support for the existing installed base, and enhancements to the hardware and software.[2] In 2006, the AEA rail business became DeltaRail Group Limited, who have developed IECC Scalable which replicates all the functionality of the original IECC on a modern hardware platform and software architecture. Following a successful 6 month trial at Swindon B in 2012, IECC Scalable is now the standard for new installations, starting with Cambridge where it controls the Ely-Norwich line which has been resignalled on the "modular signalling" concept for secondary routes.

List of IECCs in service as at 1 January 2013[edit]

Location IECCs Workstations Area controlled ARS?
Ashford 2 5 Southern Region SE section and High Speed 1 Yes
Cambridge 1 1 Ely to Norwich (exclusive of junctions at either end) No
Edinburgh 3 7 East Coast Main Line, from north of Berwick-upon-Tweed to south of Cupar and Fife Circle Line; also routes towards Glasgow via Falkirk, Bathgate, Shotts and Carstairs. Yes
Harrogate 1 1 Harrogate to Leeds (exclusive) No
Liverpool Street 4 10 Great Eastern Main Line to Marks Tey, Bishop's Stortford/Stansted North Junction/Stansted Airport and branches Yes
Marylebone 1 2 Chiltern lines to Aynho Junction near Banbury Yes
Merseyrail (Sandhills) 1 2 Signalling &
2 CCTV Crossing Keepers
The Merseyrail Northern Lines and Wirral Lines, (except south of Hooton railway station and not between Brunswick and Hunts Cross). Also small parts of Borderlands Line between Bidston railway station and Dee Marsh Junction. Also controls part of the Manchester to Southport Line nearer the Southport end. Yes
Thames Valley Signalling Centre
Didcot
6: One Classic, Five Scalable. 9 Great Western main line from London Paddington to Swindon (exclusive) and branches, plus Didcot to Oxford (exclusive) and Reading to Westbury (exclusive). However 12 miles of the main line remain under the control of Slough PSB until April 2015. Yes
Tyneside 2 4 East Coast Main Line, from north of Northallerton to south of Morpeth, and Newcastle to Sunderland including Metro to South Hylton. Yes
Upminster 3 5 London, Tilbury and Southend line and North London line Yes
Yoker 1 2 Glasgow North suburban area Yes
York 3 7 East Coast Main Line, from north of Doncaster to north of Northallerton and Leeds area Yes

The following installations are not true IECCs of the BR/SEMA/DeltaRail design. They are VDU based signalling control systems with a similar "look and feel" but in most cases they do not incorporate Automatic Route Setting.
Some locations shown below are interim installations which will eventually move into larger signalling control centres, such as Leamington and Madeley, which in time will move to the West Midlands Signalling Centre.

Location Workstations Area controlled ARS? Equipment
Bournemouth 1 Dorset coast No VICOS (Siemens SIMIS - W)
East Midlands Control Centre, Derby 5 Sharnbrook to Spondon, Attenborough to Trent East, Sheet Stores to Stenson Junction, Toton Yard,
Erewash Valley Line, Pinxton Branch, Clay Cross to Tapton, Narborough - Leicester
No* WestCAD
Leamington Spa 1 Banbury to Warwick No WestCAD
Madeley (Shropshire) 1 Oxley (exclusive) to Shrewsbury (exclusive) via Telford and Wellington No WestCAD
Marston Vale 2 Fenny Stratford (nr. Bletchley) to Bedford St. Johns No GE MCS
Former Rugby Power Signal Box 1 Formerly controlled Hunsbury Hill (exclusive) to Hillmorton Junction (exclusive) via Northampton.

(The WestCAD controlled the original Solid State Interlocking.)
Control transferred to Rugby SCC on 3 June 2012

No WestCAD
Rugby Signalling Control Centre 6 West Coast Main Line between Kings Langley (exclusive) and Armitage

also Three Spires Junction (exclusive) to Nuneaton, Arley Tunnel to Hinckley (exclusive) and Brandon to Rugby.
[² Watford Workstation only - on trial]

Yes²* GE MCS
Wembley Mainline Suburban Workstation 1 South Hampstead to Watford Junction DC Lines No* WestCAD
Stoke-on-Trent 3 Armitage to Crewe/Macclesfield (except Stafford station area) No* GE MCS
Colchester PSB 3 Marks Tey - Manningtree, Colchester - Alresford, Alresford - Clacton (Exclusive)/Walton-on-the-Naze No* GE MCS
West Midlands Signalling Centre 4 Jewellery Quarter to Warwick/Stratford-upon-Avon via Birmingham Snow Hill and Brandon/Milverton to Hampton-in-Arden/Three Spires Jn, Wolverhampton North Jn (excl.) to Bilbrook
No WestCAD
West of Scotland Signalling Centre 7 Glasgow Central to Rutherglen, East Kilbride, Paisley Canal, Ayr, Largs, Wemyss Bay and Gourock No* GE MCS
Port Talbot 1 Llanharan to Baglan No WestCAD
Abercynon 1 Abercynon to Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare No WestCad
1 x SSI Interlocking
South Wales Control Centre (WROC) 7 Ebbw to Newport
Newport - East Usk
East Usk - Severn Tunnel
Severn Tunnel to Pilning and Awre
Cardiff - Cowbridge Road
Cardiff Bay - Rhymney #1
Shrewsbury - Grestly Lane #2
No
Yes#1
ARF#2
5 x WestCad
2 x GE MCS
8 x Westlock Interlockings
Remote Westrace
East London Line Signalling Control Centre 2 Highbury & Islington station to New Cross/New Cross Gate ARF WestCAD
Havant 3 Portsmouth Harbour to Fareham and Rowlands Castle No VICOS (Siemens SIMIS - W)

* These systems, which are already in existence, are planned to be upgraded when the supplier's version of ARS has received Network Rail approval.
(WestCAD, Westinghouse Control and Display; GE MCS, General Electric Modular Control System)

References[edit]

  1. ^ New generation signalling control centre Beady, F.F.; Bartlett, P.J.N. Main Line Railway Electrification, 1989., International Conference
  2. ^ Signalling Control Centres Today and Tomorrow, Mitchell, I.H., IRSE Proceedings 2002-3

External links[edit]