Network Rail is using virtual reality technology to save time and money and improve safety as it prepares to redevelop one of Britain’s major stations.
Liverpool Lime Street will undergo major work to transform it into a station to meet the needs of the growing numbers of passengers who use it every year.
As part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, £340m is being spent across Merseyside to improve the railway for passengers, including changing the layout and length of Lime Street’s platforms to accommodate more and longer trains and upgrading signalling to make it more reliable.
The virtual reality technology has enabled Network Rail to carry out 4D virtual modelling to prepare for the work, reducing the amount of time needed on track and the potential to impact on train services.
Safety and efficiency of work is improved as virtual reality enables planners to avoid overlaps between different engineering teams as well as identifying potential risks and hazards which could potentially impact on reopening the railway on time.
Graeme Whitehead, Liverpool Lime Street project manager, said: “On major projects, where you have people laying track, moving bridges and installing electrical wires overhead, all at the same time, we need precise planning to avoid overlaps that could potentially cause projects to overrun or risk the safety of those working.
“Using this state-of-the-art technology we can spot those clashes before they happen making the project safer and more efficient. This delivers benefits for passengers, taxpayers and our orange army of engineers.”
Simon Wray, managing director of Specialist Project Integration, the company which developed the software, said: “Liverpool Lime Street is the first rail project in Britain to have a virtual reality model at its core.
“A unique feature of the system is that it works on multiple formats including mobile devices. Liverpool Lime Street is also the first project to use Oculus Rift virtual reality technology, which allows for a fully immersive experience for training and engagement.”