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Rail indus­try stan­dards: Inter­view with Fabrice Simo­nin

By La rédaction - 24 September 2018
Reading time: 6min

Stan­dards are key for publi­shers of both proprie­tary and non-proprie­tary soft­ware working in the rail indus­try. Fabrice Simo­nin, head of the rail busi­ness unit at GiSmart­ware, reflects on the chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties rail indus­try stan­dards pose for soft­ware publi­shers as infra­struc­ture mana­gers.


Why is GiSmart­ware inter­es­ted in rail indus­try stan­dards?

Infra­struc­ture mana­gers have a criti­cal need for inter­ope­ra­bi­lity, whether to conso­li­date the data produ­ced by various stake­hol­ders (engi­nee­ring consul­tants, construc­tion firms, main­te­nance compa­nies, etc.) or to publish the descrip­tion of their network for their clients or part­ners (rail­way compa­nies, regu­la­tory autho­ri­ties, etc.). They thus need tools that allow them to exchange and share refe­rence data that can be unders­tood by all. These tools are made possible due to the exis­tence of rail indus­try stan­dards.

Stan­dards also provide various suppliers with the ability to enter the market. Whilst the rail­way indus­try is a niche market with few stake­hol­ders, stan­dards allow even small actors to create compe­ti­ti­vely-priced offers adap­ted to the needs of infra­struc­ture mana­gers.

They are of inter­est to all actors. On the one hand, publi­shers can produce offers and services targe­ted at all infra­struc­ture mana­gers. On the other, infra­struc­ture mana­gers have access to a wider range of suppliers to meet their needs or finan­cial constraints. Stan­dards also allow offers to be shared between infra­struc­ture mana­gers, with deve­lop­ment costs lowe­red due to being borne by all the actors.


We often hear that soft­ware publi­shers try to keep their users captive through the use of proprie­tary formats (vendor lock-in). Isn’t it then a little contra­dic­tory that a publi­sher wants to rely on stan­dards?

It is unrea­lis­tic for small publi­shers to try to impose a model on large rail­way infra­struc­ture mana­gers. At GiSmart­ware, we are convin­ced that stan­dards are what makes inno­va­tion possible for small actors, who can then build rele­vant offers and provide better perfor­mance, impro­ved usabi­lity and more attrac­tive features.

Without these stan­dards, many start-ups and other small orga­ni­za­tions would find it impos­sible to present the market with viable solu­tions.


Which parti­cu­lar stan­dards is GiSmart­ware focu­sed on?

There are 4 rail indus­try stan­dards which GiSmart­ware focuses on. First is the RailTo­poMo­del stan­dard, crea­ted by the Inter­na­tio­nal Union of Rail­ways (UIC), which defines the topo­lo­gi­cal repre­sen­ta­tion of rail­way infra­struc­ture. Our NETGEO Rail solu­tion ensures the compliance of network descrip­tions with this stan­dard. We present the bene­fits of this stan­dard through our soft­ware solu­tion: impro­ved effi­ciency in quality assu­rance of refe­rence items and inter­ope­ra­bi­lity with third-party soft­wares. GiSmart­ware has demons­tra­ted these bene­fits at UIC RailTo­poMo­del confe­rences.

A comple­men­tary stan­dard is railML. This format, which is based on mode­ling RailTo­poMo­del topo­logy, allows data to be exchan­ged between various actors without any drop in quality. It has been added to the GiSmart­ware road­map in order to offer a tool that includes this format and makes it easy to import and export data in railML format.

Like­wise, the emer­ging Eulynx stan­dard aims to provide models of signa­ling systems. At GiSmart­ware, we closely follow the progress of this stan­dard so we can be ready to use it as soon as it is fina­li­zed.

GiSmart­ware has also chosen to get invol­ved in the stan­dar­di­za­tion of IFC Rail by buil­dingS­mart Inter­na­tio­nal (bSI). As obser­vers, we’ve been able to see the consis­tency of the approach adop­ted by bSI and the inten­ded synergy with RailTo­poMo­del. This is what persua­ded us to join the natio­nal MINnD program, repre­sen­ting France at the bSI, to put forward our point of view and exper­tise as a publi­sher in the MINnD4Rail working group.

By La rédaction - 24 September 2018

34 responses to “Rail indus­try stan­dards: Inter­view with Fabrice Simo­nin”

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