Building A Modern Metro Railway : Key is Sub-Systems Integration


In recent years we witness that, the world cities are increasingly adopting #Metro #Railways, hence the railways begin to take key stage in the world economies. With modern technologies available, the railways are becoming effective mode of transport across the city ,where roads have become conjested and affecting the air quality. The Metro #rail #system once famous in the West world in now reaching Asian and African cities with huge investments.

To build a modern railways , it is essential to take a system level view to plan and excute the #sub-systems across the #project #cycle.

The standard solutions adopted could be

1) Underground Railways : Where the surface is fully congested with road and buildings

2) Light railways above ground #Lightrailway : Mostly above ground via ducts


Civil Engineering in railway could be listed as following

  • #Tunnels: Tunnel alignment based on Track alignment , Size based on Rolling Stock & Intervention /evacuation ways and Services such as Tunnel Fire Mains , Drainage and Cable routes for multiple systems, interface with portals , shaft and Stations..etc
  • #Portals: Locations depends on Track Alignment , headhouses , Flood Barrier Systems, sumps and pump rooms..etc
  • #Shafts: Intervention & Evacuation stair shafts and Ventilation Shafts , Rooms for Multiple sub-systems.
  • #Stations: Concourse & Platforms , Stairs , Supporting structures for Escalators / Travellators ,Lift Shafts , Equipment Rooms , Intervention & Evacuation Stair Shafts , Ventilation Shafts, Gate lines , Operational Rooms , Staff Rooms , Platform End Screens , Commercial buildings , Office Rooms , Over Station structures
  • #Track: Alignment , Rails , track bed , drainage, Sidings , Depots , supporting Signals , rails for Traction power.
  • #Remote Control Centre & Back Up Centres: Control Rooms for Signals & SCADA
  • #Depots: Tracks , Maintenance facilities , structure for stabling Trains , Equipment rooms for multiple Systems , Staff Rooms …etc
    #Sub-Stations: Supporting Transformer Rooms , Equipment rooms for multiple systems , Staff Rooms
  • Supporting Structures for Over Head power , Signals and Communication devices
  • Cable Route Management Systems for multiple systems
  • Supporting Structures for Mechanical systems like Ventilation fins and Drainage systems


  • Station Design : Aesthetically please Station design & Details of finishings and layouts to meet Human factors and safety in equipment rooms
  • Shaft Design & Depot Design: Layouts based on functional requirements and human factors
  • Asset labeling , signages
  • Fire Safety Designs and details


  • #RollingStock: Size depends on Passenger carrying Capacity , Motors depends on Traction power systems , braking Systems , lighting , Passenger Information displays , equipment for Signalling , Driver warning , and Communication devices, train recovery ..etc
  • #Drainage : Tunnel Drainage , Pumped Drainage for Stations and Tunnel
  • Fire Mains & Water Mains: Fire safety supply systems for Tunnel and Stations
  • #Ventilation systems: Tunnel Ventilation and Station Ventilation system including Fire Safety scenarios , Coordination with Signalling System


  • #Traction Power Source: Power transformation from National Supply to Traction Supply, Power supply to Rolling Stocks , Integration with monitoring systems, Power supply to Signal & Communication devises , Supply to Lighting and mechanical devices, Power Supply to Stations
  • Traction Power Supply: Overhead or Rail based supply , Integration with SCADA, Switches and Transformers along way side.
  • Low Voltage Supplies to Signals , Lighting , Mechanical & Communication Devices with some backed by UPS


  • #Signalling System : Choice Conventional or Moving Block system , interfacing with Trains and Control Centre, Interfacing with SCADA
  • Signalling Software: Based on solutions , reliability on handling different scenarios
  • Signalling integrated with SCADA to control sub-systems such as Tunnel Ventilation


  • Communication Networks: LAN / WIF /Telephones /Radio / Public Announcement
  • #SCADA monitoring on multiple system
  • SCADA controlling from Remote Control centre on multiple Systems
  • Gate lines and revenue systems , automated ticket vending machines and related software

While when we look at the Light Railways above ground , many sub-systems will not be required while in terms of structures it will add Viaducts /bridges….etc

Usually the light railways are not overhead powered , and most of ventilation , Fire Safety and Intervention and Evacuation Systems is not required since they are over ground.

The modern Railways require the #Engineers to be able to #integrate and #interface with multiple #systems. Simply a Civil Engineer would not be able design or construct most of the structures unless he understand the functional & maintenance requirements of mechanical or electrical or signalling devices. A Site Engineer would not be able sequence the install unless he understand the multiple disciplinary designs and risk of a single install.

Integration of sub-systems is key to across the project cycle for a successful Railways. Usually a Single Railway Project will involve multiple consultants and Contractors , hence interfacing the designs become a role of engineers to avoid design clashes and scope gaps.

In budgetting a Railway project requires a high level integrated scope for Quntity Surveyors to correctly predict the cost and Planners to place a realistic programme.

In the feasibility stage Integration and Interface of multiple systems is required to allocate the 3D Space and locations to plan a Railways

In the Concept Design Stage , Integration and Interface of multiple systems is essential to avoid any deviations in the detail design and re-design in the later stages.

In the Detail Design Stage , Integration and Interface of multiple systems in a detail manner will provide a confidence to construction. In the recent years , many railway projects find very serious delays as the detail designs have not ironed out the integration hence, during the construction phase we find many RFIs raised , which pushes the project back to Concept and Detail design stages.

In the Construction phase , if the Integration and Interface of multiple systems is clearly carried out , the risk is much lower but sequencing the construction phase will require reasonable knowledge on multiple systems.

In the Testing & Commissioning phase , a strong Integration and Interface of multiple systems is expected since a single sub-system required integrated tests to prove they are safe and compliant. Also understanding of stage completion will need how many sub-systems are required to meet the specific stage.

In the test running phase , Integration and Interface of multiple systems will be a key prove the Railways is safe , reliable and mainatainable for its design life.

In the Operations & Maintenance , Integration and Interface of multiple systems will ensure the clear recovery time and reliability.

As world of Railways increasingly adopting many technoogies to ensure the safe and effective operations , the System level approach becomes key compared to the conventional railways where sus-systems were operating in isolation and Humans were the tool for integration.

Do we remember the days where the hoop tokens were passed by drivers to station dispatcher to agree the line clear control ? Yes now we are living in an are where we have a driver less trains but are the Railway Engineers ready to take the challenge of learning multiple systems?

A good large scale Railway project will foresee the , the good integration and interface is a key to avoid the delays and running over the budget.


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