In November 2008, SigAssure UK was created by a team of railway signalling engineers who were convinced that the railway industry in the UK was entering a new and exciting phase – one that required new products and processes, supported by innovation, to deliver cost savings in the whole life cycle of a project and the railway system.

Jump forward to May 2011 the new company was mature and confident enough to be able to offer a new product line to the industry in the form of the SiG brand.

Everything SigAssure has been expecting to achieve and be part of has always reverted back to Safety and Innovation, and it is these two factors that make being a railway signalling engineer such a challenge.

So the company is very pleased to be able to announce that the first three products created from the ethos set in 2008, and combined with the knowledge and passion all the company’s staff has for the improvements required in delivering signalling systems in the UK.

With Modular Signalling, Modular S&C and Plug & Play initiatives now firmly in place as a way of achieving costs savings going forward, SigAssure believes it has invented and developed the base line for achieving these requirements.

Modular Technology Interface System (MTIFS)

The ability to install, on site, signalling equipment that requires no further testing, checking and the minimum of site effort and skills to make it ready for commissioning has been a constant challenge for the Signalling Engineer.

There are national initiatives, supported by Network Rail, that require this ability to be provided by design and this should be considered the standard in the future. SigAssure are pleased to be part of the improvements in the efficiency of signalling system build and testing activities with the PCIU and TCIU products.

The Plug Coupler Interface Unit (PCIU) is designed to replace the standard signalling disconnection box. It meets the requirement to bring plug-coupled cables into a central point for disconnection and this is its main achievement.

The Plug Couplers need to be secure away from tampering, vandalism and unsafe acts of disconnection so the Integral Support LockForm (ISLF) system accompanies the PCIU in all track side environments to act as its support into the ground or a structure as well as providing the security against un-authorised access to the couplers.

This has all been achieved whilst maintaining a universal modular approach, and also the ability to install and connect – ‘Plug & Play’ without the need for bolting systems and complex cable terminations.

The PCIU is designed to interface cabling to all types of signalling equipment currently in use on Network Rail infrastructure. A sealed unit, there is no requirement to test its electrical connectivity & integrity on site.

Traditionally signalling equipment is purchased and put together on site each time, no matter how standard the item is, which is time consuming and open to interpretation of quality or technical mistakes.

The costs associated with the installation and testing of traditional disconnection boxes is disproportional to the cost of the equipment, and inefficiency continues to be a large cost implication in a project life cycle.

When combined with the 30 year requirement to maintain, renew and disconnect these items of equipment for track renewal works, an inefficiency generated by the process and their design, then there has always been room for improvement.

The key to the revolutionary aspects of the MTIFS range of products is that they are supported by an assurance system.

The product is not purchased as a ‘bag of parts’ that requires installation on site, and then tested to prove quality and compliance, but instead they are provided as the finished item. Built, assembled, wired, tested, labelled and accompanied by their application design that has been checked for compliance at all levels of the process.

The only effort that remains is to bolt the unit on site and plug the cables in, with a final confidence test of the equipment in question as per the Signalling Testing Handbook stipulations.

There is no room for quality issues, no need to test the product as it is a sealed unit with a certificate of test provided, and if failures do occur, a new PCIU can be inserted within seconds without the need to attempt a site repair.

The faulty item is covered under warranty, with SigAssure UK making the necessary repairs.

Track Interface Unit (TIU)

The Track Circuit Interface Unit (TCIU) completes the range of coupler interfacing, where its specific task is to allow track circuit dis-boxes to be replaced with plug coupler benefits.

Based on the PCIU design, and completely compatible with all forms of the ISLF™ system, with particular attention on the ability to mount the TIU safely to the track system itself – a novel and innovative solution aligned to the requirements of the national Modular S&C project.

The benefits of the rail mounted TCIU is to allow all the normal time consuming track circuit installation effort to be effectively undertaken before the possession, whilst the p-way is being prepared in the factory or adjacent to the worksite.

This idea will offer significant time savings, as required from the signalling fraternity in the quest for ‘8 hour S&C’ works.

System benefits

The new SigAssure system of PCIU, TCIU and ISLF offers many benefits over current practice:

  • Universal design, caters for all types of signalling equipment,
  • Speedy and effective site installation – no risk of quality issue affecting efficient project time,
  • Achieves the requirements of plug & play standards and the need to plug-coupler all signalling,
  • A full assurance system on offer, no management time on site,
  • The sigMALP can transport each item where traditionally they are installed in remote locations,
  • Allows quick disconnection, re-connection to assist track renewals,
  • Cable damage and theft issues can be rectified much quicker, thus decreasing train delays,
  • No need to fault find on site, simple replacement on site as a result of being a sealed unit,
  • Completely secure from tampering and vandalism,
  • Use as a switched item to allow re-controlling of equipment without expensive re-testing,
  • Can be retro-fitted to assist CAPEX maintenance renewals,
  • Detailed and site specific design solution is provided with each unit.

The MTIFS, PCIU & TCIU is shortly to undergo first system trials with Network Rail, and is already being installed as part of other Network Rail National Initiatives, as part of product acceptance. These products may well become the industry benchmark for the future of efficient, off site assured signalling connectivity systems.

Developing such a new system cannot be undertaken in isolation. SigAssure UK is therefore grateful for the support and partnership assistance received from AB Connectors, PELI products, Smart Print & Labels and Vortok International in the creation of the products featured here.