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2023 - July - Boldeman - Definition, Concept, and Detailed Design, a compar 2023 - July - Boldeman - Definition, Concept, and Detailed Design, a comparison

Steven Boldeman

JMD Railtech

The role of the signal designer varies significantly for designs generated at different stages of the product lifecycle. The development of a project, especially a large one, requires different project activities to establish the project, determine the benefits and resources, timeframes, risks and expected outcomes. Different project stages perform different roles within the design space for a project.

Broadly, the terminology used for the different project phases does not appear to be universal. For this paper Definition Design is the collection of information for the preparation of a business case or other document that allows the project to be funded. Concept phase is the further exploration of the nature of the project. Optioneering is the phase between Definition and Concept, and involves choice and selection of major elements for the design for a new project.

Noted is the need for a major review of the viability of a project and the end of concept phase. Some of the problems that can be detected during concept phase include; limited power available, inadequate space for the placement of new signals equipment, lack of communications capacity for what is needed, challenging interfaces with old technology signalling, concessions/departures/waivers that are needed and unlikely to be approved, amongst other project challenges. Major project and signal design challenges will often not be detected during the generation of a business case.
Early phase activities will often include timetabling, and the assessment of the operational performance of the signalling system and the rail network.

Detailed design is the generation of a full design with associated documentation and testing. This is the stage where major issues need to be resolved. Full definition of a signal design is a time consuming activity and requires substantial resources far beyond what is needed in Concept or Definition design. Much of the guarantees of safety sit at the detailed design phase, including signalling verification.

One of the conclusions of this paper is that the nature of the design activities required for each phase varies significantly. This can extend to the skillsets deployed to achieve project outcomes for each project stage.

Steven Boldeman


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