Supervising traffic and integrating works programmes
Nearly 15,000 passenger and freight trains use the French railway network every day. In recent years, the pace of works programmes dedicated to modernising and maintaining railway tracks/infrastructure has increased markedly. To ensure optimal use of the network, Traffic Management must therefore:
- manage traffic in real time (traffic regulation, handling problems - malfunctions related to a signal or switch, unauthorised person the railway track, problem with an overhead line, etc.).
- Implement safety measures to protect maintenance personnel working on the train tracks during works periods (times reserved for infrastructure maintenance).
Ensuring the safety of railway traffic
Every day 13,600 Traffic Management staff (including about 3,400 in the Ile-de-France region) are hard at work to ensure the safety of railway traffic. Among them, 8,000 traffic operators and switch operators supervise the organisation of railway traffic in strict compliance with regulatory procedures. There are also 300 traffic managers in charge of organising railway traffic and managing convoy movements in a given geographical area. Like a symphony conductor, these technicians are responsible for:
- controlling signal boxes that use different technologies (mechanical, electronic, computer-based)
- controlling and overseeing train routes
- protecting personnel working on the network by blocking trains during works periods
- signalling manoeuvres (signalling systems)
The Traffic Managers are in constant communication with the railway stations, other signal boxes, the traffic management centre, railway company representatives and infrastructure maintenance personnel.
Contributing to the modernisation of the railway network
Traffic Management supports Maintenance & Works, and Engineering and Projects, thereby contributing to the modernisation of the network and its operations through the following actions:
- support is provided for the renovation of signal boxes
- implementation of the Network Operations Centralised Command (which manages the main signal boxes and supervises the regulation of trains in a single centre)
- protection of railway works
- joint work with units in charge of maintenance (Infrapoles)
In Traffic Management, the Operations Engineering department provides its expertise in railway operations systems to improve the operational and financial performance of the network. Its role is to ensure the operability of the railway projects by maintaining cost effectiveness, thereby resulting in the continual improvement of traffic conditions. In this way, the department contributes to the Network Modernisation Plan. For traffic management as a whole and for each project, the Operations Engineering department:
- contributes to the project management of major projects
- defines the tools, production methods and new technologies
- plays an active role throughout the entire project, from initial launch to delivery
Internal organisation ensures a high level of performance for railway traffic
To ensure that railway traffic is managed efficiently and safely, the Traffic Management Department relies on 21 sub-departments (“Etablissements Infra Circulation or EICs), each staffed by 500 to 1,000 employees who handle the job nation-wide from day to day. Specifically, their tasks consist in:
- Controlling signals and interlockings to map out the train routes
- Regulating traffic
- Mobilising or demobilising trains
- Identifying and resolving traffic conflicts
- Handling incidents
The Traffic Management Division is supported by the Operations and Safety Division. The latter manages Safety, Traffic Management and Operations Engineering.
In addition, the Continuous Improvement Division identifies projects to be launched, supports important projects and manages their implementation.
A national division dedicated to the Ile-de-France region was created in order to manage the strategy and railway traffic in the greater Paris area.