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Visit to the West of Scotland Signalling Centre: 21 May 2019.

Mark_Ildertond

Mark Ilderton, Head of Integrated Control, ScotRail Alliance

© John Yellowlees, 2019

In September 2014 the ScotRail Control which after privatisation had remained integrated with Network Rail became colocated at Cowlairs with the West of Scotland Signalling Centre.

The Control brings together control duty managers for both companies with service delivery teams, customer information managers, infrastructure controllers and the maintenance control function. The team is responsible for the delivery of our daily train, with over 2,400 services operating Monday to Friday.

The control team operates according to agreed principles on such matters as maintaining customer connections and service recovery, which sometimes requires train services to be altered in order to get the network back on time again. This can involve full and part cancellations, with the removal of stops now used as a last resort for example when a route is blocked and a train needs to be diverted.

Minor perturbations are as much a fact of life as major disruptions, and lessons learned are fed back for consideration regarding infrastructure improvements. Rail replacement controllers work alongside to plan the impact of engineering possessions and other line closures.

A signalling upgrade at Westerton has just improved performance of the Milngavie branch, and the desirability of upgrading the infrastructure of the East Kilbride line is clear to all. The summer timetable is already delivering benefits from the wider use of better-performing electric trains, while the recent cancellations while drivers were being trained on High Speed Trains are largely behind us - but speed restrictions on the Far North Line are tonight having to be managed around until the track can receive the necessary attention later in the week which will see all speed restrictions removed.

A particular focus is on Anglo-Scottish trains running north of Edinburgh for which it is important that any delays in England should be minimised, in particular through effective collaboration between controls and robust regulation.

In March 2016 the ScotRail Alliance appointed Mark Ilderton to the new post of Head of the Integrated Control. Starting his career as an operations graduate at York, Mark had become a Mobile Operations Manager there before relocating to Hartlepool where he became responsible for rationalisation of signalboxes. An opportunity to move to Elgin was followed by a stint relocating Cowlairs signallers to Waverley, and then he became Station Manager at Glasgow Central. Mark won the Young Professional of the Year title at the Rail Business Awards in 2018.

Report and photograph by John Yellowlees.

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