Railway system operation is a very complicated task and must be supported by the coordination of several systems including engineering, transportation, locomotive maintenance and management, ticket system and passengers service, etc. Ideally, a modern railway enterprise information system should be an integrated, consisted, and site-opened database to support railway system operation. However, multiple isolated applications instead of one integrated enterprise information system are often formed due to historical factors such as independent departments, budgetary constraint and application requirements diversification. Take Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) as an example, four major departments have their own support systems and databases that store critical planning and operational data. Those systems are isolated and can hardly communicate with each other. As a result, most cross-systems information analyses or data reference for decision making are done manually, which significantly affect the organizational efficiency of TRA.
To address the aforementioned issues, a railway decision support platform (RDSP) for integrating the legacy systems (databases) is proposed in this paper. RDSP is designed to be a railway enterprise information system that supports the critical functions of data warehouse and decision support. Furthermore, RDSP is built by integrating the existing legacy systems rather than by building it from scratch. A data bridging system (HDBS) including four modules are design and implemented, input module for connecting the external data sources, output module for exporting integrated report or dumping data by predefined criteria for other systems, configuration module with a web-based user interface for setting up the periodic operations of data input or output tasks, and DB connection module for connecting external databases. Various types of railway system data are designed in RDSP schema and collected, including facilities, timetable, train services records, tickets, centralized traffic control (CTC) system records, and automatic train protection (ATP) system records.
RDSP provides a system framework to integrate many isolated island-style databases that currently exist in TRA, and can form a cross-enterprise database that serves as the primary and only data platform. To demonstrate the efficacy of the RDSP, a spatiotemporal ticket-selling analysis report, a train delay cause analysis report, and a timetable planning software (TrainWorld) are designed on top of it. In the future, RDSP will play a major supportive role in infrastructure maintenance, operations, decision support, and planning.