Route Condition Monitoring


Route Condition/Status Monitoring applications provide real-time information about the operational status of the route. They identify how the route is performing compared to the planned performance. They are typically implemented as a supporting application within a CAD/AVM system.

The application compares the real-time information about the route (vehicle location, speed, speed variances, delays) with the planned service (timetable, headways, running times). It identifies where the service is operating as planned, where it is at variance with the plan, and usually also analyses the severity of the variance. Optionally, it may acquire real-time and pre-planned information from external sources about events, disruptions, etc.

The application presents the route condition to specified end-users. Most typically, this is to the CAD/AVM dispatcher. In these cases, the route condition is presented in graphic and numeric format. This includes:

  • Summary indicator of status of all routes
  • Summary indicator of status of all routes assigned to the dispatcher or dispatcher cluster
  • Condition status of individual routes
  • Optionally, only alerts and variances beyond performance tolerance are shown

Experience with CAD/AVM has shown that dispatchers find it difficult to discern the most important information unless they are highlighted. For this reason, most Route Condition Monitoring applications use visual tools to highlight the important information. Methods include:

  • Representation of the intervals between vehicles, either on the route map or as a separate screen
  • Colour-coding of variances to indicate early/late running, bunching, excessive intervals
  • Flashing symbols for variances that need close attention
  • Audio alerts
  • Listing of key variances, optionally ordered by priority

Route Condition Monitoring can also feed other systems. Real-time passenger information, traveller alert services, and journey planners can receive route condition information and include it in the advice provided to passengers. It can also be channelled to operations support staff, and to external entities.

Technologies, data and resources

Route Condition Monitoring is a software application, normally performed on the CAD/AVM server, and used as a feed to other applications including the Computer Aided Dispatching, real-time passenger information, and traffic management services.

It utilises two primary data sources:

  • Real-time vehicle location
  • (Semi-) fixed route information, including route map, schedules, intermediate travel times,

In some instances, it may also include data about diversions, roadworks, and temporary timetables.

Advantages and Cautions

The primary advantages of Route Condition Monitoring are to:

  • reduce information overload on dispatchers
  • assist dispatchers to prioritise their operations management work, especially at busy periods
  • ensure that emerging problems are not overlooked
  • provide information feeds to traveller information services

The principal cautions are similar to those for CAD/AVM:

  • comprehensive operations management procedures must be in place. It is not sufficient to display the information. It must be understood and acted upon.
  • dispatchers/service supervisors need clear objectives, and need to know both how they should interpret the Route Condition information and how they should respond
  • complacency must be avoided. The role of the dispatcher is to achieve effective route performance, not just to observe the screens and information

Relevant Case Studies

Dublin, Florence, Zurich