Network Rail Grinding Train Fleet

IT4A network solution provides a world-leading uranium enrichment plant with a durable and reliable managed system to ensure continuity of manufacture and ease of operation.

Network Rail’s Grinding Train Fleet plays a fundamental role in maintaining the rail infrastructure of the UK, ensuring that passengers enjoy a safe, comfortable and reliable journey, as well as reducing noise for rail-side residents.

In 2013, Network Rail’s Grinding Train Fleet manager Leevan Finney, identified that increasing numbers of ‘on vehicle’ issues, including system blackouts, were network related issues; they were causing disruption to planned engineering works and, by association, the Fleet’s reputation. It was crucial to find a replacement data network automation solution that could withstand harsh environmental factors and return reliable operation to the Grinding Train Fleet.

This goal had to be achieved within an environment where cables, connectors and power sources have historically been identified as weaknesses. To improve upon the existing implementation, the new system would continuously monitor all connected devices. When degradation is detected, the resultant event gets reported to a centralised monitoring service where remediation is actioned.


Passive Infrastructure

IT4A’s solution involved a total redesign of the vehicle’s physical cabling system. The new design reduces the number of connections, improves the quality of terminations and mandates the adoption of M12 connectors specifically designed for data. These enhancements result in a vehicle-wide, copper cabling system able to pass the EN50173 infrastructure certification standard that reliable, high speed, active ethernet networks demand.


Active On-Vehicle Ethernet

IT4A’s ruggedized network design benefits from triple redundancy in the data path, with automated sub second failover; further resilience is gained by feeding all switches from dual AC and DC power supplies. The EN50155 certified active network is now more robust than the connecting PLCs that communicate across it.


WiFi & Remote Access

IT4A’s solution has been to implement a secure, firewalled & encrypted, WiFi access method. Network access is now controlled and monitored with a potential trip hazard removed. Secure remote access to on-board networked systems can now be extended to distant hardware and software OEMs, some of which are based in America. This new capability avoids delay, reduces site based risks and can significantly reduce cost.


Remote Management

All alarms and system events are captured on the vehicle and are forwarded to IT4A’s 24/7 network monitoring service where a related remediation plan is actioned. These services also provide customers with automated alerts on degraded operation and failure. The 24/7 monitoring of on-board firewalls and device logs is a key part of the fleet’s cyber threat mitigation strategy. A strategy that considers threat, risk and mitigation techniques to deliver protection and peace of mind.


Condition Based Monitoring

The addition of an on-board, condition based monitoring, computer has provided new opportunities to collect, trend and present data and alerts from previously unmonitored system elements (e.g. engine management data). The IT4A solution has added a new level of network reliability and availability to the Grinding Train Fleet, reduced operating costs and further enhanced Network Rail’s reputation with their customers.


System Components

IT4A selected the EN50155 certified MOXA TN range of active Ethernet switches for the vehicle’s resilient Ethernet backbone and the MOXA AWK 3131 RCC Wireless access point for engineering WiFi access. The network management and condition monitoring services are hosted on a MOXA V2616A-C5-LX, EN50155 compliant computing platform with train-to-ground routing provided by the MOXA OnCell 5014HSPA.