Back to Case studies

VR: Situational awareness system for commuter train disruption management

Developing a situational awareness system for commuter train disruption management

Technologies used

  • React
  • Node.js
  • Python
  • AWS
  • Terraform

The challenge

On average, two trains leave Helsinki railway station every minute during the rush hours. The operations centre for commuter traffic manages disturbances in the commuter train traffic caused by, e.g. rail infrastructure issues, technical problems with trains, drivers or other staff availability. Disturbance management requires fast decision-making, so support systems and tools play a central role.

VR wanted to develop a system that provides real-time situational awareness for different user groups, automates simple tasks as well as communication and supports operations centre decision-making by using models based on analytics.

Our collaboration with Futurice’s multidisciplinary team allowed us to build and rapidly ramp up from prototype to production MVP a cutting-edge and thoroughly modern situational awareness system that serves the needs of both our employees and customers.
Antti Kleemola
CDO, VR Group

What we did

Employing a multidisciplinary team covering business, technology and service design expertise, we co-created a 5-year vision and concrete roadmap for digitalized operations of commuter traffic and part of that is the situational awareness system Ohjus. We used storytelling to communicate the vision and validate it with management and operative personnel.

The primary targets of Ohjus include

  1. To create a visual real-time situational awareness on rolling stock and personnel and use alerts to ensure that disturbances are noticed before they affect customers.

  2. To enable decentralised operation by different parties based on the same situational awareness in disturbance situations, enabling faster problem solving and reducing unnecessary communication.

  3. To support decision-making at the operations centre by offering automated proposals and showing their implications to costs, customer experience etc.

We defined an MVP for Ohjus for a chosen user group and prioritised user needs. To ensure high availability in all situations and the ability to scale capacity when needed, Ohjus is built on Amazon AWS cloud services. Ohjus combines real-time data sources with longer-term planning. Data sourced from different sources and visualized together in one solution provide operators with a holistic, up-to-date view of commuter rail traffic, allowing them to gain a quick understanding of the current traffic situation and adapt their decisions based on real data.

The first version of the Ohjus system is already in operative use.

Outcomes and impact

  • VR estimates that in some issue areas it can achieve up to 60% less train cancellations caused by the particular issue type if Ohjus would have been in place in 2018.

  • The first version of the Ohjus situational awareness system is already in operative use and receives good feedback from users.

  • The conflict detection engine analyses incoming data and flags potential issues in real-time, based on a pre-determined set of rules. The approach allows VR to react to potential problems and mitigate the effects even before the actual event has happened.

  • The build phase followed the Ohjus vision work without unnecessary delays.

Why it matters

VR wants to offer its customers a reliable commuter train service at all times. Real-time data, automation of simple tasks and communication, and the use of analytics to support decision-making enable faster recovery in disturbance situations, more efficient resource utilisation and improved customer experience through fast and reliable information delivery. VR estimates that it can achieve substantial results in lowering the number of trains being cancelled when the situational awareness system Ohjus will be in place and thus improve its customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

About VR Group

VR Group is a Finnish state-owned company operating in the field of travel, logistics and rolling stock maintenance. The group primarily operates in Finland, but it also has operations abroad, especially in Russia VR’s passenger services offer transport services in long-distance and commuter traffic with trains and buses. VR Transpoint offers logistics services in rail and road logistics. VR FleetCare maintains, repairs and manufactures rolling stock and provides expert services related to rolling stock technology. VR Group employs 6,000 professionals, with annual net sales of approximately one billion euros.

Want to know more about this?

Get in touch

Looking for help with an idea, brand new brief or in-flight project? Drop us a line for a straightforward conversation.