Tuesday 7 October 2014
Rail Security

EU PREDICT Project Workshop #1 – Understanding cascading effects & resilience – What tools to mitigate cascading effects?

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UIC as a consortium member of the PREDICT project and representing the railway end-users, participated on 2 October in the PREDICT – Workshop #1 “Understanding cascading effects & resilience – What tools to mitigate cascading effects?” in Paris.

Mr José Pires and Mrs Virginie Papillault (Seniors Advisors of the UIC Security Division), as well Mrs Galina Bolich from the DB Situation Center and Global Crisis Management provided their view points with regard to the positioning and needs of the railways towards an enhanced capacity to answer such challenges.


The aim of the PREDICT project is to provide a comprehensive solution for dealing with cascading effects in multi-sectoral crisis situations covering aspects of critical infrastructures. The PREDICT solution will be composed of the following three pillars: methodologies, models and software tools. Their integrated use will increase the awareness and understanding of cascading effects by crisis response organisations, enhance their preparedness and improve their response capability to respond in case of cascading failures.

About Workshop #1 “Understanding cascading effects & resilience – What tools to mitigate cascading effects?

This workshop focused on understanding the needs and requirements of end-users for crisis management software tools used to mitigate cascading effects. The results of the interactive sessions with the end-users will help the PREDICT team to define the technical specifications for the tools to be developed within the framework of the project.

In the morning sessions more dedicated to present PREDICT to the attendees, Mr Dominique Serafin (CEA), coordinator of the project, gave a PREDICT presentation to the partners of the consortium about the objectives of the project. The main goals are to:

  • Deliver a comprehensive solution for dealing with cascading effects in multisectorial crisis situations.
  • Develop prediction, decision and training tools for decision makers.

Followed by Mrs Olivia Cahusac (CEIS) who presented a description of the three use cases that will be of support for study throughout the project and also produce dedicated workshops:

  • The railway case will be developed with the support of UIC, having as story line a railway accident scenario (table exercise), between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany;
  • A second case will be made by SYKE (Finnish Environment Institute);
  • And a third on a flooding case by VRZHZ (Safety Region South Holland) in the Rhine-Maas delta region.

UIC provided a presentation explaining the context of the impacts of cascading effects on the EU railway network.
The after serious events cascading effects within the rail systems will always orbit in a dimension of its spatial and functional interdependencies:

  • Spatial Interdependencies: One infrastructure (rail) can be located near another infrastructure (power grid) for economic reasons, so a physical failure in one leads to damage of and a failure in another nearby facility. Example; if the power grid fails, the rail power traction needed to run trains, can be lost = large % of rail operations stop!
  • Functional Interdependencies: Two infrastructures (rail&Telecom) depend on one another to function. Example; if the Telecom network fails, the rail safety protocols needed to run rail traffic management cannot be transmitted = large % of rail operations disrupted or stop!

Leading to cascading failure; witch is a failure in a system of interconnected parts in which the failure of a part can trigger the failure of successive parts.
For railways most (not all) of the cascading failure causes are external such as:

  • Natural phenomena such as earthquakes, mud floods, landslides, volcanic eruption or industrial accidents may cause huge disasters.

Each crisis generally determines consequences in multiple sectors and systems (e.g. building and infrastructures, roads and public transport, lifelines and telecommunication, society and emergency management.)
Given that the railway system needs to increase its resilience levels to cope with all of these, especially in a context with constant changes related to the weather, geophysics or even social, cultural and economic changes.

The answer to enhance rail system resilience towards the preparedness to manage domino effects in crisis situations is to develop a Comprehensive Railway Protection as a new concept of combined (complementary) protection for railways which encompasses and produce a collaborative effort between Safety, Security, Civil and Environment Protection, Safety and Civil Defence.

From another angle, Mr Mohamed Eid (CEA) raised the discussion on the need to develop the metrics to measure crisis management and the resilience of the systems. This is a core question for those who need to understand the criteria to develop, when designing crisis management decision support tools. Also the integration of the human factor criteria in the cascading effects is of great importance for the improvement of the existing decision support systems.

At the end of the partner presentations, Thales taking a more industrial approach presented a Decision Support System (DSS) software that intend to be a “support system” to decisions and not a decision taking mechanism.

Emphasis was placed on the importance of a good definition of the information (inputs) and the options (outputs). This DSS depends on the quality of the inputs processed and the quality of the processing itself according to the operational needs. So once again, the afore-mentioned collaborative effort is also needed here.
The afternoon session was dedicated to a discussion between small expert groups that was based on a questionnaire proposed by CEIS. The questions were developed with the objective to support the following work of the DSS development.

The conclusions were very inspiring, with a wide number of different end users (power and water grid and civil protection representatives), converging to a common understanding that, in the current and future complex intermodal world, the number of spatial and functional interdependencies between services infrastructures will increase exponentially, and only a comprehensive systems protection approach will be efficient. Meaning that, the roles and responsibilities of all the Safety, Security, Civil and Environment Protection, Safety and Civil Defence actors involved in protecting and crisis management will have to be clearly defined at the national and international levels; the national and international rules and procedures need to be accordingly adapted to the complexity of the current and future EU critical services infrastructures development; the DSS will have to be “dynamic and adaptive” to answer multiple scenarios and information input; and the “human factor” needs to be in the centre of the crisis management design.

The consortium will continue to look to all the opinions and angles, with the sole purpose of providing a better understanding of this complex domino effect phenomenon in the crisis management processes.

You can visit: http://www.predict-project.eu/

This project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° FP7-SEC-2013-607697.

For further Information contact: José Pires pires@uic.org and or Virginie Papillault papillault@uic.org

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