The University of Hull’s Logistics Institute has received praise from the UK rail industry for its pioneering digital platform designed to help optimise freight route planning by rail.
NR+ consolidates and links data from 28 previously standalone systems in a single accessible format online. It can be used by Network Rail, rail operating companies or current and potential rail freight users to quickly and accurately understand and analyse routing options on the complex UK rail network.
Staff from the Logistics Institute demonstrated the capabilities of NR+ at the Rail Innovation Exhibition in London and have been delighted with the overwhelmingly positive feedback. Network Rail staff see NR+ as a great tool that helps to get round some of the current complexities around rail freight planning, while freight operators have praised the ability of NR+ to save time and simplify a number of internal processes.
Amar Ramudhin, Director of the Logistics Institute, said “By bringing together for the first time so many standalone systems into a single online platform, NR+ will deliver major efficiency gains, not only in the time needed to find the best routes, but also in faster decision making, providing an advantage in the highly competitive freight transportation market.”
Ed Wilson, Network Rail’s Head of Strategic Capability for Freight and National Passenger Operations, is pleased with progress so far. He said: “We have been working closely with and supporting the Logistics Institute in their development of NR+, a digital platform for freight specific network capability data. The work to date has been very encouraging and there is potential that the platform could provide a much improved user interface for our internal and external customers to analyse network capability data and drive efficiency and improved reliability in the system."
NR+ has also been praised for its user-friendly visual interface, which makes it easy for a user to see the constraints around the network.
The UK rail network is one of the costliest and most strategic assets of the UK, so the impact of increased efficiency and effectiveness in planning can be huge. Making the data available to third parties will benefit the industry by reducing the cost and time of data gathering and maintenance.
With the first version of NR+ platform near to completion, the Logistics Institute’s focus is now the development of a pathway to a commercial proposition.
Established in 2008, the Logistics Institute is a world-renowned centre for research, education and expertise in logistics and supply chain management. The Institute is a leader in applied logistics research and industry outreach programmes, both national and international, whose focus is to drive sustainable growth through viable logistics.