RSSB SPARK

 

SPARK User Guide

 

For SPARK Version 1.8.4

December 2012


 

How to use this User Guide

This guidance has been designed to be easy to navigate using the contents menu on the left. You can also search the document for a word or phrase using Ctrl + F (Windows) or Cmd + F (Mac).

 

1 Introduction to SPARK

RSSB has developed a knowledge sharing portal called SPARK, ‘Sharing Portal for Access to Rail Knowledge’.

SPARK is a web-based tool to access and share knowledge and enhance co-operation across the GB rail industry and beyond, with the aim to reduce duplication, speed up innovation and maximise value.

This document aims to provide guidance to users on how SPARK functions and how to make the best use of it.

It is not intended to supersede or summarise the Terms and Conditions and we recommend that you refer to the latter document.

1.1 The Spirit of Sharing

SPARK is designed as a tool for sharing rail knowledge. The more we are all aware of what is already known, or has been done before, and what people are doing now, the less likely we are to waste time and money duplicating work.

Sharing knowledge does not necessarily mean that you give away material (eg reports or data) for free to other SPARK users. What it means is that you let them know that it exists and what it is about, so that they may contact you to find out more and perhaps purchase it, contract your services or offer to share information in return.

To enable this, SPARK has a library which focuses on signposting the existence of information whilst also providing the possibility to make it available where appropriate. We refer to each entry of information as a ‘record’.

As a minimum we encourage you to add sufficient information for other SPARK users to know what material you have available and what projects and/or initiatives you have previously worked on, or are currently working on.

The more we share, the faster and cheaper we will be able to develop rail in the 21st century, as a sustainable, efficient, safe and reliable mode of transport.

1.1.1 The Benefits of Using SPARK

Adding records to SPARK is a useful way to manage your own knowledge. This includes both information about work that you have done yourself and information created by others, that you have come across and want to remember.

It is common for us all to have memos, lists, documents stored in disparate places all over our computer hard drives, hidden away in parts of our shared office networks, on memory sticks etc. When we want to find them it is often a challenge to remember where they are stored, what is in a particular file, and why it was kept. By storing information within SPARK (subject to the copyright permissions of others’ work of course), you will be able to find it easily.

For providers of research, technology and services, SPARK could be a powerful shop window to show what you have worked on and what your capabilities are. This could lead to new opportunities and sources of funding for you.

Your contributions are not limited to adding records. By starting discussions about work which you are planning to do, you may find some very useful information to support it, or make contacts with key people who could help you.

FAQ

Why isn’t SPARK open for anyone to contribute?


 

2 SPARK’s Key Functions

SPARK allows you to:

·       Share information and material with other SPARK users by adding a record to the SPARK library

·       When appropriate, attach files to records

·       Browse and search for information and material contained in SPARK.

·       Rate and comment on information and material

·       Initiate and participate in discussions

·       Manage your user profile to share information about yourself, and your capabilities, with other users, as well as to manage your activities in SPARK

All of these functions can be accessed from the Home page of SPARK.

FAQs

What about providing the possibility for groups of SPARK users to cooperate more closely?

2.1 SPARK Accessibility

RSSB is committed to providing websites that are accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of technology or ability. We are actively working to increase the accessibility and usability of SPARK and in doing so aim to adhere to as many of the available standards and guidelines as possible.

2.1.1 Guidelines and Standards

Functionality and accessibility is core to our online best practice and we aim to meet DDA and W3C standards where possible.

For the optimum user experience, we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 8 (or above) as your browser with a screen resolution of 1024x768 pixels or above.

2.2 Visual Aids

This section provides instructions on changing the text size of your browser. Instructions are provided for the recommended browser, Internet Explorer, though other browsers have similar controls available.

To change the size at which text is displayed select View | Text Size from the Menu Bar and then select a text size from the sub-menu.

You can also change the ‘zoom level’ to increase or decrease the overall size of the page.

To change the zoom level:

·       To zoom in, hold down the CTRL key and press +

·       To zoom out, hold down the CTRL key and press –

You can also change the page size using the zoom level control on the bottom status bar of your browser window (Internet Explorer 7 and 8); or by clicking on the Cog icon (Internet Explorer 9).

Internet Explorer 8 status bar zoom settings

The appearance of web pages can also be controlled using user-defined (or local) style sheets. User style sheets can be used to control colour and underlining in addition to text size.

To specify a user style sheet from within Internet Explorer:

·       Select Tools | Internet Options from the Menu Bar

The Internet Options window opens

·       From the General tab, click the Accessibility button

The Accessibility window opens

·       Use the User style sheet section to browse for and select a custom style sheet.

For further information, see http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows-vista/Use-your-own-style-sheet-to-format-webpages.

2.2.1 Exceptions

Whilst RSSB strive to adhere to the accepted guidelines and standards for accessibility and usability, it is not always possible to do so in all areas of the website. Wherever possible we identify potential accessibility issues and resolve them using available technology, or suggest a suitable work around to achieve a satisfactory outcome.

2.2.2 Cookies

For information on our cookie policy, see the SPARK Terms and Conditions, available from the SPARK footer. To enable and disable cookies using your browser

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0, 8.0:

·       Click on Tools at the top of your browser window and select Internet Options

·       In the options window navigate to the Privacy tab

·       To enable cookies: Set the slider to ‘Medium’ or below

·       To disable cookies: Move the slider to the top to block all cookies

·       Note there are various levels of cookie enablement and disablement in Explorer. For more information on other cookie settings offered in Internet Explorer, refer to the following page from Microsoft: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows-vista/Block-or-allow-cookies

Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.0:

·       Click on the cog icon at the top right of your browser window and select Internet Options

·       In the options window navigate to the Privacy tab

·       To enable cookies: Set the slider to ‘Medium’ or below

·       To disable cookies: Move the slider to the top to block all cookies

·       Note there are various levels of cookie enablement and disablement in Explorer. For more information on other cookie settings offered in Internet Explorer, refer to the following page from Microsoft: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows7/How-to-manage-cookies-in-Internet-Explorer-9

Mozilla Firefox:

·       Click on Tools at the browser menu and select Options

·       Select the Privacy panel

·       To enable cookies: Check ‘Accept cookies for sites’

·       To disable cookies: Uncheck ‘Accept cookies for sites’ 

·       Note there are various levels of cookie enablement and disablement in Firefox. For more information, refer to the following page from Mozilla: http://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/Enabling%20and%20disabling%20cookies

Google Chrome:

·       Click the wrench icon on the browser toolbar

·       Select Settings

·       Click Show advanced settings

·       In the Privacy section, click the Content settings button

·       To enable cookies in the ‘Cookies’ section, pick Allow local data to be set, this will enable both first-party and third-party cookies. To allow only first-party cookies pick Block all third-party cookies without exception

·       To disable cookies, in the ‘Cookies’ section, pick Block sites from setting any data

·       Note there are various levels of cookie enablement and disablement in Chrome. For more information on other cookie settings offered in Chrome, refer to the following page from Google: http://support.google.com/chrome/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=95647

All other browsers:

·       Please look for a “help” function in the browser or contact the browser provider.

2.2.3 Contact information

We are continually seeking out solutions that will bring all areas of the site up to the same level of overall web accessibility. In the meantime should you experience any difficulty in accessing the SPARK website, contact us at SPARK@rssb.co.uk.

2.3 Breaching Copyright Laws and Confidentiality Agreements

At the heart of SPARK is a library containing records of information and in the spirit of sharing, all users are encouraged to add records to the library. However, you must ensure that you have read the terms and conditions regarding what you are allowed to add. It is your responsibility to ensure that you only add content for which you have appropriate permission. In particular, some information may have:

·       Copyright restrictions attached to it that do not allow you to share it.

·       Confidentiality associated with it, eg someone has agreed to share some information with you, but they do not want you to share it with anyone else.

·       Data protection rights associated with it, eg you are adding information that contains someone else’s contact details

If you see information or material that you believe breaches copyright, confidentiality agreements or your own data protection rights, please click the Report to RSSB button on the relevant record, which will prompt RSSB to investigate and remove the content if appropriate.

Report to RSSB button

FAQs

I do not know whether something has copyright restriction or not. What should I do?


 

3 How To...

This section provides information on how to complete key tasks within SPARK.

If you cannot find the information you require within this guide, contact us at SPARK@rssb.co.uk.

3.1 Access Materials from the Home Page

On opening SPARK you are taken to the Home page.

The Home page contains the following sections:

·       Highlights – Shows news updates and other selected stories

·       Latest records – Shows the most recently added records for each content type. See Access Latest Records below for more information

·       My SPARK – Shows the latest records and discussions that you have added. See Access Your own Records below for more information

·       Records you may be interested in – Shows records and discussions relating to the topics of interest that you have selected. See Access Records of Interest below for more information

The SPARK Homepage

To search SPARK in more detail, you must use the filter options provided within the Library page or use the search options. For further information, see Search SPARK.

3.1.1 Access Latest Records

The Latest Records section All tab displays the five most recently uploaded records within SPARK.

Select a different tab within this section to show the most recently uploaded records for a particular content type. For example, click the Research Projects tab to view the five most recently added Research Project records.

 

Latest Records section of homepage

For information on the SPARK content types, see Content Types below.

When you upload a record it will take several minutes to appear in the Latest Records section. Uploaded records appear immediately within the My SPARK section.

3.1.2 Access Your own Records

The My SPARK section shows the most recent records and discussions that you have added.

From here you can also edit and delete records or edit, lock and delete discussions.

To view all of your materials, and not just the most recently added, click the View all in my profile button to view your records and discussions within the My Profile page, Activity tab.

3.1.3 Access Records of Interest

The Records you may be interested in section displays records and discussions that are tagged with the topics that you have indicated are topics of interest to you.

This section does not display records or discussions that you have added yourself.

Records you may be interested in

To select a temporary topic of interest:

·       Click the Browse icon Browse tags iconto open the Add Terms window

·       Expand the most appropriate topic(s) and browse the available subtopics

Available subtopics

·       Where you want to select a subtopic, either:

·       Double-click the topic to add it to the selection field at the bottom of the window

·       Single-click the topic to select it, then click Select to add the topic to the selection field

·       When you have selected the required topics, click OK

·       Within the Records you may be interested in section, click the refresh icon Refresh icon

Topics selected on the Home page are not retained beyond your current SPARK session. To permanently change your topics of interest, go to the My Profile page, My details tab. For further information, see Specify Areas of Interest.

3.1.3.1 Set up email alert

Click the Set up email alert button at the bottom of the Records you may be interested in section to configure SPARK to automatically email you with details of any new records related to your topics of interest. For further information see Set up email alerts.

Email alert button

3.2 Distinguish Content Types

In order to make information easily findable within SPARK, the following six content types (or record types) have been defined to act as the main structure of the library:

Publications

Publications

Examples include reports, articles from journals, conference papers, presentations, and audio and video footage such as podcasts and other audiovisual material.

Research Projects

Research projects

Past, current and planned research projects or programmes of research with application or potential application to the railways.

Initiatives

Initiatives

Past, current and planned projects, programmes, activities or strategies that serve as a focal point to accomplish something that benefits the rail industry.

Data sources

Data sources

Sources of data that are collected and updated on a regular basis or have been captured during the course of a project or initiative.

Centres of Expertise

Centres of expertise

Organisations, or departments and teams within organisations, which are known to have high standards of achievement in areas relevant to the rail industry. Note that these are not endorsed by RSSB.

Test Facilities

Test facilities

Test tracks and other test equipment or facilities that can be used to test or trial railway developments, applications or operational practices. Note that these are not endorsed by RSSB.

In addition to the six content types, SPARK uses topics and subtopics to help other users to find your information. For further information on topics and subtopics, see Select Topics and Appendix 1: Guidance on topics and subtopics.

3.3 Distinguish Visibility Levels

The following icons are used to show who has access to the records within SPARK:

Visible to all users

Indicates that the material is visible to all users

Confidential to Contributors or above

Indicates that the material is confidential to Contributors, RSSB Members or IRRB Members.

Confidential to RSSB members or above

Indicates that the material is confidential to RSSB Members and other members of key GB stakeholders groups who need access to restricted information in order to support their work for the group

Confidential to IRRB members or above

Indicates that the material is confidential to IRRB Members

 

If you are a Reader, you cannot view records that are only accessible to Contributors, RSSB Members or IRRB Members. Similarly, if you are a Contributor, you cannot view records that are only accessible to RSSB or IRRB Members. You can always view records that you have created yourself.

Where Organisation Sharing is configured in SPARK, colleagues within your organisation can view your records, irrespective of the visibility setting. For more information, see Share with Selected Users below.

 

Visibility pyramid

 

For further information on setting the visibility level for a record or attachment, see Set the Visibility level for your record.

Do not share the information with anyone who is not permitted, eg if the record says RSSB members only, then you are not permitted to share it with anyone outside of RSSB membership, without asking the record owner if they will let you. If you need to know whether a member of a GB stakeholder group, who is not a member of RSSB, has access to the members’ area of SPARK, please contact SPARK@rssb.co.uk

3.3.1 Share with Selected Users

We can set up SPARK so you can view all records created by others within the same organisation as you (so for example, if a colleague has created a record with a visibility setting of 'RSSB Member’ and you are not an RSSB Member, it would still be visible to you as a member of the same organisation). For information on having this configured for your organisation, contact SPARK@rssb.co.uk.

For ongoing collaborations with specific other users, SPARK will be expanded in the future to include functionality to create collaborative work spaces. The aim is to enable you to select the individual users with whom you wish to share information, develop documents and facilitate the collaboration process.

3.4 Search SPARK

There are three main methods for finding information within SPARK:

·       Filter a record set

·       Search using quick search

·       Search using advanced search.

Each of these methods is described in more detail below.

3.4.1 Filter a Record Set

If you are looking for information on a fairly broad subject then you are advised to browse for suitable records by topic and sub topic. This tends to be more time consuming than searching, although less needs to be known about the records for a successful outcome.

Filters can also be applied to records returned from a Quick Search or an Advanced Search.

To filter a record set:

·       Click the Library icon to open the Library page

·       Within the left margin, use the View records by topics section to select the topic or subtopic for which you want to view the available records. For example, to see all of the records relating to Electrification, select Infrastructure | Electrification.

 

View records by topics section

·       To further narrow down the record set, use the Key Filters section to select further filtering options.

For example, use the Content Type drop-down to select a content type (Publications, Centre of Expertise, etc) in order to only show records of that type.

Key filters

3.4.2 Search using Quick Search

The Quick Search functionality is provided through the Search ribbon provided at the top of every SPARK page.

To use the Quick Search:

·       Select a content type from the drop-down to only return records of that type (this is optional)

Search ribbon

·       Enter a search term in the adjacent field

·       Click Search.

Records containing your search terms are returned within a results page. By default, results are sorted by relevance.

Use the filter in the left margin of the results page to further refine your search.

Only the ‘signposting information’ – eg title, abstract and keywords – are searched in a Quick Search. If you also want to search within attachments and/or discussions you must use the Advanced Search feature.

3.4.3 Search using Advanced Search

The Advanced Search allows you to conduct a specific search when you know exactly what you are looking for. 

To use the Advanced Search:

·       Click the Advanced Search link, positioned to the right of the Quick Search fields on the Search ribbon within SPARK

The Advanced Search page opens displaying the Advanced Search tab

·       Enter a search term in the Search field

Advanced search

·       Specify a search scope by selecting one or more of the following Information types checkboxes:

·       Records – Search within records

·       Include attachments – Search within the files attached to records

·       Discussions – Search within discussions.

By default only the Records checkbox is selected. The Include attachments checkbox is only available (and can only be selected) when the Records checkbox is also selected.

Advanced search scopes

·       Optionally specify one or more record types within which to search by selecting the record type checkboxes also displayed in the Information types section of the page. For example, select the ‘Data Sources’ checkbox to only search within Data Source records. The record type checkboxes are only displayed if the Records information type checkbox is selected.

·       Search for a particular term within a particular record property (field) using the Specific Search fields. These fields are used as follows:

·       Use the ‘Pick a property’ drop-down to select a particular property (i.e. field from within a record). The fields available are determined by the option(s) selected in the record types checkboxes

·       Use the central ‘Contains’ drop-down to specify whether you want to search for records where the selected field either: Contains a particular value, Does not contain a particular value, Equals a particular value, or Does not equal a particular value

·       Use the right-hand field to enter a value for which to search.

Use the ‘And’ and the Add Icon Add icon to add further property-based restrictions. These fields are optional.

For example, using these fields you could specify the search:

Specific search settings

This search would return British Rail Research papers containing the word ‘Rolling Stock’ within the title.

·       When you have finished entering your search options, click Search.

Records containing your search terms are returned within a results page. By default, results are sorted by relevance.

Use the filters in the left margin of the results page to further refine your search.

3.4.4 Search for Users

To search for other SPARK users:

·       Click the SPARK User search link on the Search ribbon along the top of any SPARK page to display the SPARK Users Search tab. Enter a name and click Search

You can enter a partial search term followed by an asterisk. For example, enter ‘Jo*’ to search for users named Johnson, Jones, etc.

FAQs

What is the difference between browsing and searching? Which should I use?

3.5 Add a Record

To add a record:

·       Click the Add a record link on the top ribbon within SPARK

Add a record

·       Select a record type from the pop-up box

·       For further information on the available record types, see Content Types

The New ... Record page opens

·       Complete the appropriate fields for your record

Fields with red labels are mandatory. You must complete these fields to be able to save your record.

·       Add any attachments (such as Word documents, PDF files or images) that you want to make available from your record on SPARK. For further information see Add attachments and set visibility levels for them

·       When you have finished adding information, click Save to save the record

3.5.1 Completing Record Fields

This user guidance does not provide information on every field within every content type, as SPARK is designed to be intuitive to use.

However, the guidance does provide information on the key metadata fields that appear in most content types. When you add any type of record, you will also be asked to enter information that helps to structure the library and make it more searchable. Such fields are commonly known as ‘metadata’. The more data you can provide in the metadata fields, the easier it will be for users to subsequently find information.

For further information, see:

·       Select Topics

·       Select Keywords

·       Select Objectives

·       Select Organisations

·       Select Visibility

Additionally, tips on completing some fields are provided within SPARK itself.

Within a record, hover your cursor over a Help icon Help icon to display further information on the accompanying field within a pop-up tooltip.

Tooltip example

FAQs

Do I have to fill out all the fields to enter a record?

Why are there so many mandatory fields to be filled in?

What material should I put in SPARK? Could / should I put as many of my electronic documents as possible in SPARK?

To share a report with the findings from a research project should I create a ‘publication type’ record or a ‘research project type’ record?

Does SPARK check for duplicate records?

3.6 Select Topics

When completing any type of record, you must select at least one subtopic from within the following topics:

·       ‘Infrastructure’ covers all fixed items on the railway

·       ‘Rolling stock’ covers all movable items on the railway including all vehicle types – passenger, freight, conventional, high-speed and magnetic levitation. These different types of vehicle have not been split into the sub-categories as many of the aspects overlap.

·       ‘Operations’ covers how the railway works.

·       ‘Technical system interaction’ covers how the infrastructure and rolling stock interact as well as cross-systems and whole system issues.

·       ‘Human factors’ covers different aspects of how humans, staff, passenger and general public, interact with the railway.

·       ‘Policy and decision making’ covers major issues that affect the whole railway, for example strategies, policies, evaluation methodologies.

For a list of definitions that includes all subtopics, see Appendix 1: Topics and Subtopics.

Selecting sub-topics helps other users to find your information. You can choose as many subtopics as are relevant.

To select a sub-topic for a record:

·       Expand a topic heading to display the available subtopics

Subtopics selection

·       Select the subtopics that apply to your record. Selected subtopics display a tick

You can select subtopics from as many topics as needed

·       To remove a previously added subtopic, click the checkbox a second time so the tick is no longer displayed.

RSSB recommends that you focus on identifying the two or three of the most relevant subtopics, adding no more than five or six subtopics in total.

FAQs

A number of subtopics overlap. Which one should I choose?

Why there isn’t more granularity in the subtopics, eg separation of different rolling stock types and/ or separation of the key rolling stock components?

3.7 Select Keywords

The Keywords field allows you to select words or phrases to describe the content of the record. This is a mandatory field.

To select keywords, you can either display the Select Keywords screen to show a full list of the available keywords or start typing within the keywords field to show the available options that match the characters entered. Both of these options are described below.

To specify Keywords using the Select Keywords screen:

·       Click the Browse icon to the right of the Keywords field Browse tags icon

The Select Keywords page opens

Select keywords window

·       Scroll through the keywords list to view the available keywords. To view subsequent pages, click the Next Page icon Next page icon

·       Where you find a keyword that is appropriate to your record, click Select

·       If a required keyword is not available from the list, simply type the keyword directly into the Select field

·       Once you have selected or input enough appropriate keywords, click OK.

To specify keywords directly using the Keywords field:

·       Start typing the keyword you want to specify, for example, to specify ‘track defects’, type ‘tra

·       A drop-down will automatically appear showing the available options that begin with the characters entered

Keywords autofill

·       Click on an available option to select it for your record

·       If an appropriate option is not shown, type the required keyword in full.

3.8 Select Objectives

This field describes the main goal of a research project or initiative or, for the publication and data source content types, the relevance of the material to specific industry objectives (if applicable).

This is an optional field which allows the selection of multiple values. Simply select (tick) the options that apply to your record:

Selecting objectives

3.9 Select Organisations

Use this field to add the name of the organisation(s) associated with the record. This could, for example, be the organisation that the author of a publication works for or the lead organisation in a research project. SPARK will suggest possible organisations as you begin to type but you are also free to enter a new organisation name.

This field is sometimes mandatory, depending on the content type of the record you are creating.

To specify an organisation:

·       Click the Browse icon to the right of the Organisation field Browse organisations icon

·       The Select Organisation page opens

·       Scroll through the organisation names to view the available organisation names. To view subsequent pages, click the Next Page icon Next page icon

·       Where you find the organisation name that is appropriate to your record, click Select

·       If a required organisation name is not available from the list, simply type the name directly into the Select field

·       Once you have selected or input enough appropriate organisation names, click OK.

To specify an organisation directly using the Organisations field:

·       Start typing the organisation name you want to specify, for example, to specify ‘RSSB’, type ‘RS’

·       A drop-down will automatically appear showing available options that begin with the characters entered

Organisation autofill

·       Click on an available option to select it for your record

·       If an appropriate option is not shown, type the required organisation name in full.

3.10 Set the Visibility level for your record

When you add a record you can set different levels of visibility for the record and any attachments added.

The levels available for you to save content to are defined by your own Visibility level: you can only save to your own level or lower. For example a Contributor could only add records ‘Visible to all SPARK users’ or ‘Confidential to Contributors’

For information on adding a record see Add a Record.

For information on setting visibility levels for attachments see Add attachments and set visibility levels for them

To set the visibility level for the record you are adding:

·       Scroll to the Visibility section near the end of the record

·       Select a visibility level from the drop-down menu, choosing from the following options:

·       Visible to all SPARK users – Anyone within the SPARK community can view the record

·       Confidential to Contributors – Only you, other Contributors, RSSB Members and IRRB Members can view the record

·       Confidential to RSSB Members – Only you and RSSB Member Organisations can view the record

·       Confidential to IRRB Members – Only you and IRRB Member Organisations can view the record

Within the Latest Records section of the Home page and the Library page, an icon will be displayed on the right-hand side of the record to show the record’s visibility.

For details of the icons used see Distinguish Visibility Levels.

3.11 Add attachments and set visibility levels for them

Attachments can be added to all record types.

Attachments to a record can have different visibility levels to the record itself. For example, you may want to allow all users to access the high level brief of an initiative but restrict the visibility of a detailed report.

It is expected that records which act as a signpost to information will be visible to all SPARK users whereas attachments are more likely to have visibility restrictions to protect copyright and confidentiality.

3.11.1 Add an attachment (without Silverlight installed)

For further information on how to check whether or not you have Silverlight installed on your computer see the FAQ How do I tell if I have Silverlight installed?

To add an attachment and set its visibility level:

·       At the bottom of the record, within the Attachments to this record section, click Add

Add attachments

A pop-up window headed Add/manage attachments will open to show the options for uploading a file

·       Click Browse. The Choose File to Upload window opens

·        Navigate to the file you want to upload and click Open. You can only upload one file at a time

The path to the uploaded file will display in the Browse field

·       Click Attach to attach your file. This button is only available once you have selected a file to upload

·       The uploaded attachment filename is displayed (greyed-out) in the window

·       Select a visibility level for the uploaded file by selecting form the drop-down menu, choosing from the following options:

·       Visible to all SPARK users – Anyone within the SPARK community can view the record

·       Confidential to Contributors – Only you, other Contributors, RSSB Members and IRRB Members can view the record

·       Confidential to RSSB Members – Only you and RSSB Member Organisations can view the record

·       Confidential to IRRB Members – Only you and IRRB Member Organisations can view the record

 

You cannot set a visibility option for an attachment that is less restrictive than the record. For example, if you set the visibility for the record as ‘Confidential to RSSB Members’, this is the only visibility option that will be available when uploading an attachment as the attachment cannot have a less restrictive setting than the record.

·        You can then attach another file or click OK to return to the parent record. Click Cancel if you have changed your mind about adding the file(s).

Details of any added attachments are displayed in the Attachments to this record section.

Attachments to this record

The attachment will only be saved into SPARK when you save the parent record.

3.11.2 Add an attachment (with Silverlight installed)

For further information on how to check whether or not you have Silverlight installed on your computer see the FAQ How do I tell if I have Silverlight installed?

To add an attachment and set its visibility level:

·       At the bottom of the record, within the Attachments to this record section, click Add

Add attachments

A pop-up window headed Add/manage attachments will open to show the options for uploading files

·       Click Upload attachments

·       The Open navigation window is displayed, allowing you to navigate to and select the file(s) you want to upload. To select multiple files, use one of the following actions:

·       Select a consecutive group of files by clicking the first item, holding down the Shift key, and then clicking the last item

·       Select a consecutive group of files without using the keyboard by dragging the mouse pointer to create a selection around the outside of all the items you want to select

·       Select non-consecutive files by holding down the CTRL key and then clicking each item you want to select

·       When you have selected the required files, click Open

·       The uploaded attachment filenames are displayed (greyed-out) in the Add/manage attachments window

·       Select a visibility level for the uploaded file by selecting form the drop-down menu, choosing from the following options:

·       Visible to all SPARK users – Anyone within the SPARK community can view the record

·       Confidential to Contributors – Only you, other Contributors, RSSB Members and IRRB Members can view the record

·       Confidential to RSSB Members – Only you and RSSB Member Organisations can view the record

·       Confidential to IRRB Members – Only you and IRRB Member Organisations can view the record

 

You cannot set a visibility option for an attachment that is less restrictive than the record. For example, if you set the visibility for the record as ‘Confidential to RSSB Members’, this is the only visibility option that will be available when uploading an attachment as the attachment cannot have a less restrictive setting than the record.

·        You can then attach additional files or click OK to return to the parent record. Click Cancel if you have changed your mind about adding the file(s).

Details of any added attachments are displayed in the Attachments to this record section.

Attachments to this record

The attachment will only be saved into SPARK when you save the parent record.

3.11.3 Change the visibility level for an attachment

To change the visibility level for an attachment you have already uploaded:

·       Click Add/manage in the Attachments to this record section

·       In the Add/manage attachments window select a new visibility level by selecting from the drop-down menu.

·       Click OK to return to the parent record.

3.11.4 Delete an attachment

To delete an existing attachment:

·       Click Add/manage in the Attachments to this record section

·       In the Add/manage attachments window click the X (remove) icon alongside the attachment you want to delete

·       Click OK to confirm that you want to delete the attachment

·       Click OK to return to the parent record.

 Changes to attachments are not committed until you save the parent record.

3.12 Link Records

Records in SPARK may be related to each other. SPARK allows the following key relationships to be captured:

·       Data Sources can be related to other Data Sources

·       Publications can be related to Research Projects and vice versa

·       Publications can be related to Initiatives and vice versa

·       Publications can be related to Data Sources and vice versa

·       Research Projects can be related to Initiatives and vice versa.

To create a link from one record to another:

·       Within the Search for records field, enter a search term to locate the record to which you want to establish a link (for example, enter ‘climate change’ to find records related to climate change)

·       Click Search

·       The search results are shown in the Query Results field

·       If the record to which you want to link is shown, click Associate

Searching for records to link to

·       Associated records are shown in the Associated Records field

Associated records

·       To remove an associated record, simply click the Remove button within the Associated Records field.

Once a link has been created, it can only be modified from the source record (the record from which the link was established). However, information on any established link is visible in both the ‘source record’ and the ‘destination record’.

If, as the owner of a record, you disagree with a link established by someone else, you should access the ‘source record’ and use either the Suggest a change or Report to RSSB button (depending on the nature and reasons for the disagreement). 

FAQs

When should I try to establish relationships and link records?

Why are you devoting so much space on some of the adding record pages to the linking function?

3.13 Add Comments and Ratings

Contributors, RSSB Members and IRRB Members have the ability to add comments to records in the SPARK library.

RSSB does not moderate any comments nor endorse any specific records. All comments and records (including those made by RSSB staff) only reflect the individual’s views.

3.13.1 Comments

Comments can be seen by all users who have permission to access the record to which the comment refers. Comments can be used to make notes of what is interesting about the item or what is not covered, etc. In line with the Code of Conduct, please do not be offensive or derogatory about someone else’s work.

To add a comment:

·       Open the record that you want to comment on (for example, by clicking on the record in the Home page Latest Records section, the Library page, etc)

·       Scroll to the Comments for this record section at the end of the record

·       Enter a comment using the text field

·       Click Post to add your comment.

To Edit or Delete one of your comments, use the respective Edit and Delete links that appear next to the posted comment.

3.13.2 Ratings

Contributors, RSSB Members and IRRB Members have the ability to score records according to a five star rating. The ratings can be used to identify which items users find most valuable.

To add a rating:

·       Open the record that you want to rate (for example, by clicking on the record in the Home page Latest Records section, the Library page, etc)

·       Scroll to the Rate this record section, adjacent to the Comments for this record section

·       Hover your cursor over the left-most star and then move to the right to select further stars. Click when you have selected the number of stars that you want to apply (with 5 stars indicating the highest rating). As soon as you click the rating is applied.

Rate this record

The combined ratings received for a record is shown by the number of blue stars displayed in the Rate this record section.

Current rating

Where no blue stars are shown the record is yet to be rated.

No rating

FAQs

Why can’t I make anonymous comments?

Is there the possibility to make a private comment?

3.14 Create and Manage Discussions

SPARK offers users the opportunity to participate in discussion forums with other users. You can use this to find out if anyone else is working in an area you are interested in or to ask if anyone knows the answer to a question you have. You can also share your experiences of getting funding for rail projects and research.

Although all users are able to view any discussion, only Contributors, RSSB Members or IRRB Members can add or participate in discussions.

Discussions are split into five themes:

·       Research ideas - Useful when you want to discuss and get views on research you are considering undertaking

·       Issues/opportunities – For when you are looking for solutions to tackle a problem you have or something you would like to achieve  

·       Funding – Useful when you have found or are looking for a funding mechanism for projects. Please note this is not a place to ask for funding for your specific projects

·       Collaboration – Useful when you are looking for partners to support and / or join you in a project or an initiative

·       News stories – Useful when you want to share the headline of the day

Discussions are grouped and therefore navigable by theme.

Please use the discussion forums in a professional manner in line with the Code of Conduct. Please do not offend or discredit anyone (whether they are a user or not) or use inappropriate language.

Please note that any opinion expressed by a user (including an RSSB staff member) is their view only and does not represent the official position of their company, unless explicitly expressed as such.  There are no visibility categories for discussion forums. All users are able to see all discussions.

3.14.1 Add Discussions

To add a discussion:

·       Click the Discuss icon to open the Discuss page

·       Click the Add new discussion button

The Discussions – New Item window opens

·       Enter the following information:

·       Subject – Enter an appropriate subject heading for your discussion

·       Body – Enter information on the area that you want to discuss

·       Discussion Theme – Select the theme that relates most closely to your discussion. You can only select a single theme. This is a mandatory field.

·       Topics and Subtopics – Select subtopics to help other users find a discussion you have initiated.

On clicking Save, you can then press View Discussion to view the discussion added or Home to return to the SPARK Home page.

3.14.2 Edit Discussions

You can edit any discussions that you started.

You cannot edit your response to either another user’s discussions or your own discussions.

To edit a discussion:

·       Click the My Profile icon to the open the My Profile page

·       Locate the discussion you want to edit within the My discussions section

·       Click the Edit button to the right of the discussion title

My Discussions

3.14.3 Search Discussions

To search discussions for a particular word or phrase:

·       Click the Advanced Search link on the top ribbon within SPARK

The Advanced Search page opens

·       Enter a search term in the Search field

·       Within the Advanced Search tab, select the Discussions checkbox

·       Click Search

Advanced search

3.15 Personalise SPARK

3.15.1 Update Your User Profile

All SPARK users have a user profile. This ‘profile’ space allows you to share information about yourself with others. This can be used to publicise your expertise in a given area so that other users know who to go to when they need help or advice. You can choose whether or not to share your personal details. However your name will be visible on any contribution you make to SPARK.

3.15.1.1 Manage Your own Materials

If you are a Contributor, RSSB Member or IRRB Member, you can manage any records you have created or discussions you have started from within your user profile.

Within the My records section the following options are provided for each record:

·       Edit – Open an edit view of the record allowing you to make changes to the record

·       Delete – Delete the record from SPARK. A confirmation message is displayed before the record is deleted.

Within the My Discussions section the following options are provided for each discussion:

·       Edit – Edit an initial discussion post. Note that you cannot edit your own replies to a discussion or comments left by others

·       Lock – Lock a discussion so no further replies can be posted. This may be required where, for example, a discussion relates to a particular conference that has now passed. A confirmation message is displayed before the discussion is locked.

·       Delete – Delete a discussion so it no longer appears within SPARK. A confirmation message is displayed before the discussion is deleted.

Use the Lock and Delete options with care. Deleted discussions cannot be reinstated and locked discussions cannot be unlocked.

3.15.1.2 Specify areas of interest

From within your profile, you can customise the SPARK Home page to list new records and discussions based on topics in which you have an interest. To do this:

·       From the top ribbon, click the My Profile icon to open the My profile page

·       Select the My Details tab

·       Within the Areas of interest section, select the subtopics in which you have an interest.

For example, if you are specifically interested in rolling stock, you might select ‘Rolling stock testing’, ‘Rolling stock maintenance’, etc

Areas of interest

·        Once you have selected your areas of interest, click Save.

Records and discussions that match the subtopics selected will now be displayed on the Home page within the Records you may be interested in section.

Records and discussions that you created yourself are not displayed within the Records you may be interested in section of the Home page; they are however displayed within the adjacent My SPARK section.

If you want to temporarily change your interests you can do this via the SPARK Home page by specifying subtopics using the Select your topics of interest field. Any selections made here are discarded when you exit your SPARK session. See Access Records of Interest for further information.

3.15.1.3 Set up email alerts

From within your profile, you can configure SPARK to email you details of any new records related to your topics of interest. To do this:

·       From the top ribbon, click the My Profile icon to open the My profile page

·       Select the Email tab

·       Select the checkbox labelled I would like to receive regular email alerts of new content matching my areas of interest

My profile email settings

·       Once you have selected this checkbox, click Save.

Content alerts are sent from SPARK each week on a Sunday. To stop receiving email alerts, simply clear (deselect) the I would like to receive regular email alerts… checkbox.

4 Administration and Moderation

Discussions, comments and records will not be moderated unless this is requested.

To report a concern regarding a record, click the Report to RSSB link on the individual record page.

Report to RSSB buttton

To report a concern regarding a discussion or comment, send details to SPARK@rssb.co.uk.

If you see an error in a record, or if you have additional or more up-to-date information that would be useful to add to a record, click the Suggest a change button at the bottom of the record. This will send your suggested change to the record owner as well as the content administrator.

Suggest a change button

If RSSB notices that a record is in the wrong category, the content administrator may modify the category or add it to another category to help others find the information.


 

5 FAQs

5.1 Why isn’t SPARK open for anyone to contribute?

There are clearly pros and cons to providing contribution rights to anyone with an interest in rail. However, there are two reasons why we decided against such an open access policy.

The first reason is to create suitable incentives for sharing. Currently, a number of organisations are keen to share but may not practice it for one of the following reasons: (i) it often consumes valuable resources, (ii) there are limited cross-company systems to facilitate this behaviour, and (iii) the incentives are limited. If an organisation makes lots of its knowledge open access in the spirit of sharing, it may find itself in a weaker position when trying to get other organisations to reciprocate. To unlock this practice, RSSB is offering access to contributing to the SPARK platform as an incentive and a means for others to share information.

The second reason is one of resources. Often, when people are allowed to join forums without any criteria or conditions attached to their participation, more administrative effort is required to manage input. The quality of content may become compromised with irrelevant material as we would have no control over who is participating, thus making it less useful for the people that the system is designed for. RSSB plans to have a minimal moderating role on the basis that the users are a large but known group of organisations and individuals.

5.2 What about providing the possibility for groups of SPARK users to cooperate more closely?

Within the next round of SPARK development, the creation of collaborative work spaces is under consideration. These spaces will enable users to cooperate with other named users in a controlled access environment. There may also be the possibility of co-writing documents in a ‘wiki’ style.

5.3 I do not know whether something has copyright restriction or not. What should I do?

Just referring to a paper or a report by saying that it exists and providing information such as title, author, source and year of publication (which are some of the key fields required to signpost the existence of a publication in SPARK) is not subject to copyright (although it may be confidential - which is different).

Documents themselves frequently have copyright restrictions and you must take particular care to check if you are permitted to share them with others. In order of increasing protection rights, documents can fall into one of the following three categories:

·       Public domain material that is exempt from any copyright. Anyone can reproduce it, use it and even make money selling it, with no obligations.

·       Copyleft is licensed material for which the author has asserted their ownership, but has voluntarily given everyone permission to do certain things with, without having to first ask. There are several differentiations within this very broad category.  Reports from UK government departments are very likely to fall into this category.

·       Copyrighted material that you're not allowed to copy/store in any way unless the copyright owner has given express permission. A typical example is an article from a journal.

It is important to recognise that ‘public domain’ is not a synonym for ‘publicly available’, for example something shouldn’t be considered ‘in the public domain’ just because it is broadly available on the Internet.

If you are in any doubt of the copyright status of material which you would like to add to SPARK by default please do NOT add or share it and contact the SPARK administrator for guidance.

We expect that the majority of documents added to SPARK will be added by the copyright holder themselves.

A significant grey area is in formal abstracts, which may or may not have copyright restriction. Copyright to most journal abstracts will be owned by the journal's publisher or by the author(s) and, whilst there is a culture amongst the scientific community of free movement of published ideas, one shouldn't presume that publishers have the same approach.

Nonetheless it is common for abstracts to be open access to encourage readers to buy the full documents. If abstracts can be found openly on the Internet, then they are usually permitted to be shared (unless the website explicitly says otherwise) - particularly if you comply with ‘fair use’ conditions including:

(i)         Limiting the amount of material you reproduce and do so for indexing purpose only ( which SPARK is)

(ii)        Acknowledge the copyright of the abstract itself

(iii)       Reference the source and provide a link to the website where the paper can be purchased

If you are in doubt, then you should not share a formal abstract. Instead, you could write your own very brief description of what the material is about.

5.4 What is the difference between browsing and searching? Which should I use?

Browsing is when you are looking without a particular target. For example you just want to look for whatever SPARK contains on a particular subtopic, or for all of the centres of expertise. You can use the filters on the left hand side of the screen to narrow down the display of results once you have seen what is available. Browsing is what you are doing if you click ‘Library’ on the toolbar.

Searching is more targeted, for example, you are looking for a paper on a particular subject or a centre of expertise who deals in a particular subject, or a particular author. Searching is done by filling in search terms in the search box in the toolbar. You can refine your search by using the ‘Advanced search’ facility. See Search SPARK for further information.

5.5 What material should I put in SPARK? Could / should I put as many of my electronic documents as possible in SPARK?

There are no fixed rules and the material will not be moderated. 

SPARK is designed to capture material in six categories. (See Content Types)

The common themes are that the material should be of interest to a wide audience (eg not just people within your organisation or a small group of people) and should be reasonably stable over time. We would not expect to see meeting minutes and agendas uploaded for example. There are extranets that cater for meeting management information and SPARK does not intend to duplicate or replace those more appropriate forums.

We also don’t anticipate SPARK being a repository for adverts for events, as these become obsolete very quickly, but you can use the discussion functionality to publicise an upcoming event or provide feedback to one you just attended. We suggest you use the ‘news’ thread.

Another major category of records that we request you do not upload is standards. Standards are published by dedicated websites and are very sensitive to version control. Please do not add railway standards to SPARK as they could cause a user to inadvertently rely on an old version. Reports or projects relating to how standards were created etc. are welcome where appropriate – just not the standards themselves.

There are likely to be three broad types of material you could consider adding to SPARK:

·       Corporate material tends to cover key facilities and capabilities of your organisation. Before adding this type of content, it is advisable that you make sure it reflects how your organisation generally portrays itself and that at the corporate level the organisation is aware of what has been added in SPARK.

·       Departmental material tends to cover what is the pipeline in any given areas of an organisation, particular projects that are underway or being initiated and any material that has been published. If the material is generated by another department in your organisation it is advisable that you check with them and ensure that they are comfortable with it being held in SPARK.  If the material is generated within your department and it is not a one-off occurrence, you may want to consider agreeing some basic principles on the best route and timing to add such material to SPARK as a routine.

·       Individual material such as material you read, information you gathered at an event, papers / material you generated.

5.6 Do I have to fill out all the fields to enter a record?

No. There are a small number of mandatory fields but of course the more data you supply the more informative and easily searchable a record is.

5.7 Why are there so many mandatory fields to be filled in?

SPARK is designed to make it easy to find relevant information. To do this effectively, you need to ‘tag’ certain information (called metadata). For example, if you enter the name of an organisation that authored a document, you can search for ‘all documents written by organisation x’. You could not do this if you or other users did not specifically add this information to your own records.

We recognise that the more fields that are filled in, the more time-consuming it is to enter a record.  It is a trade-off between ease of entering information and ease of finding information. Therefore, we have selected a small number of fields for each content type, which we thought would be the most useful as a search criterion and these have been made mandatory. We welcome feedback on whether or not we have struck the right balance.

5.8 To share a report with the findings from a research project should I create a ‘publication type’ record or a ‘research project type’ record?

We suggest that you create a ‘research project’ record to describe the project and separate ‘publication’ record(s) to share reports, publications and any significant final presentations or outputs.

For interim project files, such as project specification or interim deliverables, you could use the ‘add file’ function and attach these to ‘research project’ record.

You can link any publication records to the research project record, to show that they are related. See Link Records for more information.

5.9 A number of subtopics overlap. Which one should I choose?

Choose as many as you think will help people identify your record when searching for records by subtopics. People think about the same topics in different ways, which is why they overlap.

5.10 Why there isn’t there more granularity in the subtopics, eg separation of different rolling stock types and/ or separation of the key rolling stock components?

We had to strike a balance between having a sufficiently broad range of subtopics to sensibly filter and group information, while at the same time avoiding this categorisation being spread too thinly, which could become confusing. The additional ‘keywords’ field can help add granularity.

Topics are roughly in line with the categorisation that has been used in the World Congress on Rail Research abstract submissions, which have some level of international agreement.

The majority of subjects are relevant to all rolling stock types, so we did not separate these. If you want to specify a rolling stock type, then please add this as a keyword.

There were so many rolling stock components it was hard to select any that stand alone so they are grouped. We may add another category in the future and welcome your feedback on whether the current selection is appropriate.

5.11 Does SPARK check for duplicate records?

Yes, but only if the title is identical. If you try to upload a record with an identical title, you will receive an error message.

In such cases the first thing to do would be to search for the identically named record. If you cannot find it, please note that it is possible that it is in SPARK but you may not be able to see it because the owner has restricted its visibility.

If you want to continue adding the record to the library either modify the title so that it will not match an existing one (eg add v2), or email us SPARK@rssb.co.uk so that we can run a check on existing records and let you know how best to proceed.

5.12 When should I try to establish relationships and link records?

The linking of records is not a function that is intended to be used regularly or systematically.  Related records should always be found via searches.

We added the possibility to directly establish links between different records and particularly between different types of records as we recognised some of these relationship are key and they should have full and explicit visibility, eg research projects tend to produce reports which can become stand alone publications in their own right, but it should be possible to relate them back to the originating research project.

5.13 Why are you devoting so much space on some of the adding record pages to the linking function?

The current ‘linking records’ function is not as user friendly as we would like it to be and occupies too much space on the form. We will try to address this in a later version of SPARK.

5.14 Why can’t I make anonymous comments?

To create a system allowing useful comments and minimise offensive comments, it was decided that the author of each comment and discussion thread should be easily identifiable.

5.15 Is there the possibility to make a private comment?

SPARK will eventually allow you to tag records you are interested in and make private comments (for example why you liked it, what it contained that is relevant to you, where it came from). However, currently, any comment that you make is publicly visible to all the users who can see the record you have commented on.

5.16 How do I tell if I have Silverlight installed?

For machines running Microsoft Windows (XP and later):

·       Click the Start button

·       From the start menu, click the Control Panel menu item. The Control Panel window opens

·       Click Add or Remove Programs (this option is named Programs - Programs and Features in Windows Vista and Windows 7). The Add or Remove Programs window is displayed

·       Where Silverlight is installed, 'Microsoft Silverlight; is shown in the list of currently installed programs.

You can close the Control Panel window using the window's Close button.

Microsoft Silverlight does not run on all operating systems – for further information see http://www.microsoft.com/getsilverlight/Get-Started/Install/Default.aspx

 

6 Appendix 1: Guidance on Topics and Subtopics

SPARK is tagging records in its library using a number of topics and subtopics to make it easier to find information on the subject in which you are interested.

At the top level are the topics:

Topic

Description

Infrastructure

This describes the fixed assets of the railway

Rolling stock

This describes the moveable assets of the railway

Operations

This describes how the railway functions

Technical system integration and interaction

This describes how the fixed and moveable assets of the railway interact at the interfaces

Human factors

This describes how humans interact with the railway (staff, passengers, public)

Policy and decision making

This describes strategies and management activities affecting the whole railway. It excludes decision making for single asset types, which are covered by the other topics.

 

Sitting within the topics are the more specific subtopics. When entering a record, you may choose as many subtopics as you think are appropriate to best categorise your record and help others to find it. There will often be an overlap between topics, so just pick the best fit subtopic(s) that describe your record.

Examples of the type of information you can expect to find in the various subtopics are given below.


 

 


Infrastructure

Subtopics

 

Examples of subjects that may be found within this subtopic

Electrification

Electrification systems (including different voltages, current systems and frequencies, contact systems), electrification equipment such as feeder stations, boosters, etc, regeneration

Track design and components

Rails, ballast, sub-ballast level, clips/fastenings, sleepers, points/switches and crossings, turnouts, subgrade, track foundations, track systems, track quality, track superstructure, non-ballasted track, innovative track design, Maglev infrastructure

Structures

Road bridges, footbridges, rail bridges, tunnels, gauging, embankments and cuttings, viaducts, soil, design of rail structures, failures/damage of rail structures, loading

Control, command and signalling

Signalling systems, control systems, ERTMS, ETCS, track circuits, train location/ detection, train integrity, fixed block, moving block, routing, interlocking, signalling and its impact on capacity

Communication networks and technologies

Radio frequencies, satellite technologies (GSM-R, GPS, Galileo), TCN (Train Communication Network), broad-band, mobile telecoms, future technologies

Stations

Station design, capacity (trains), capacity (passengers), wayfinding systems, signage, disability access, platforms, platform gates, escalators, stairs, walkways

Depots / yards

Design, interface with road/waterborne transport, loading

Infrastructure testing

Methods/types of testing, laboratory testing, in situ testing, full-scale testing, model-scale testing, simulation, test results

Infrastructure condition monitoring and inspection

Monitoring and inspection systems, equipment, trainborne/train-mounted/ on-board equipment, infrastructure-based/ground/track-based equipment, procedures/regimes, manual inspection, remote condition monitoring (RCM)

Infrastructure asset management

Decision making/ policies, asset knowledge, whole life costs, performance targets, performance/ demand requirements, Reliability – Availability – Maintainability - Safety (RAMS) analysis, failure classification, failure statistics

Infrastructure maintenance

Techniques, regimes/procedures, equipment, minimum action(s), preventive maintenance

Adaptation to climate change

Mitigation measures, planning, flooding, extreme weather, extreme temperatures, overheating, wind

Other infrastructure

Anything which does not fit comfortably into another infrastructure subtopic

 


 

 

Rolling stock

Subtopics

 

Examples of subjects that may be found within this subtopic

Train design: components

General components (eg wheels/wheelsets, bogies, suspension, coupling/connectors, pantographs, axles); as well as specific train passenger components (eg tilting technology, doors, windows, toilets, heating systems, air-conditioning systems, seats, tables, lighting, emergency exit) and freight components (eg wagons, containers)

This subtopic covers all types of train, ie passenger, freight, high-speed, conventional, magnetic levitation, metros

Train design: structure and crashworthiness

Bodyshell, crashworthiness, vehicle gauge, train length, train shape, finite element analysis, vehicle dynamics analysis/simulation

This subtopic covers all types of train, ie passenger, freight, high-speed, conventional, magnetic levitation, metros

Rolling stock testing

Methods/types of testing, laboratory testing, in situ testing, full-scale testing, model-scale testing, simulation, wind tunnels, moving models, test results

Rolling stock maintenance

Techniques, equipment, procedures/regimes, equipment

Rolling stock condition monitoring and inspection

Monitoring and inspection systems, equipment, trainborne/train-mounted/ on-board equipment, infrastructure-based/ground/track-based equipment, procedures/regimes, manual inspection, remote condition monitoring (RCM)

Rolling stock asset management

Decision making/ policies, asset knowledge, whole life costs, performance targets, performance/ demand requirements, Reliability – Availability – Maintainability - Safety (RAMS) analysis, failure classification, failure statistics

Comfort / ride quality

Suspension and its impact on comfort and ride quality, seats, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, internal noise

Traction and train-borne energy sources

Diesel, biofuel, hydrogen, energy storage, batteries, flywheels, monitoring of energy usage, energy metering, magnetic levitation, auxiliary power

Onboard IT applications

Software requirements, system architecture, seat reservations, passenger entertainment, Wi-fi, internet, CCTV, obsolescence, safety integrity

Train control and onboard diagnosis

Driver vigilance devices, traction brake control devises, On Train Monitoring Recorder (OTMR), autonomous navigation, on-board intelligence, movement authority,  Tilt Authorisation and Speed Supervision (TASS), Driver Advisory systems (DAS)

Fire performance

Fire performance requirements

Braking systems

Braking systems, brake control systems, cooling, regenerative braking, electric braking

Other rolling stock

Anything which does not fit comfortably into another rolling stock subtopic

 


 

 

Operations subtopics

Examples of subjects that may be found within this subtopic

Train control and signalling (operational issues)

Operational rules, degraded working (eg mode of working during signalling failures), driver and signaller interactions, communication protocols, simulation of signalling operations, SPADs, speed restrictions, Driver Only Operations

Level crossings / road-rail interfaces

Level crossing misuse, bridge strikes, road vehicle incursions

Traffic supervision and management

Route setting, route control, disruption management, perturbation management, tracking, train and staff rosters, power supply planning, ATO (Automatic Train Operation), DAS (Driver Advisory System)

Scheduling and timetabling optimisation

Train planning, timetables, timetable simulation, mixed rail traffic simulations, seasonal timetables, timetabling techniques, timetabling algorithms

Revenue management and optimisation

Yield management, revenue management, pricing strategies

Telematics / data structures

Information systems, data exchange, data security, architectures for information exchange

Customer services for passenger

Disruption information, journey planning, ticketing, seat reservation, communications to passengers, passenger disability assistance, personal journey assistant

Customer services for freight

Security, logistics, wagon/container identification

Safety management

Mitigation measures, incident investigation, incident modelling, incident management, risk assessment, ALARP assessments, safety management systems, safety cases

Security management

Emergency response plans, railway crime, vandalism, trespassing, ‘secure railway’ type schemes, security plans

Station management

Train dispatch, crowd management, dwell times, station security, ticket selling and checking, boarding and alighting from train, managing the need of passengers with reduced mobility, station winterisation measures/programmes

Other operations

Anything which does not fit comfortably into another operations subtopic

 


 


Technical system integration subtopics

Examples of subjects that may be found within this subtopic

Aerodynamics

Cross-wind, air pressures, slipstreams, train sealing, air shafts, aerodynamic drag, smoke dispersal, smoke extraction, tunnel design, sonic boom, pantograph lift, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), wind tunnel testing

Noise and vibration

Track/vehicle noise, vehicle/air noise, effect on staff, effect on residents, effect on buildings/structures, measurement/quantification of noise and vibration, ground borne vibration, reduction, laws

Electromagnetic compatibility

Electro magnetic compatibility (EMC), effect on signalling, effect on people, effect on adjacent electrical equipment, immunisation, quantification of magnetic fields

Pantograph catenary interaction

Contact, de-wirement, dynamics, simulation

3rd rail / collector shoe interaction

Contact, ice, dynamics, simulation

Wheel rail interface

Rail damage or wear (eg rolling contact fatigue (RCF), gauge corner cracking, corrugation), wheel damage or wear (eg RCF, wheel flats), adhesion, wheel slide, friction, friction modifiers, lubrication

Vehicle track dynamics

Vehicle dynamics, track dynamics, suspension systems, gauging, simulation

Whole system design and modelling

Network capacity, relationships between different systems, network simulation

Whole system reliability

Redundant equipment/ likelihood of system failures/ back-up systems, trade-offs between sub-systems optimisation

Cross-systems technologies

Future / new technologies, technology transfer, description of technologies at low technology readiness levels

Cross-systems materials

New materials, description of material properties, description of material testing

Other system integration

Anything which does not fit comfortably into another system integration subtopic

 


 

 


Human factors

Examples of subjects that may be found within this subtopic

Human performance

Human Performance Improvement (HPI), behavioural psychology, cognitive psychology, performance shaping factors, human resources management, individual differences, approaches to improving and sustaining individual and organizational performance, fatigue and fatigue management, workload, situational awareness, distraction, vigilance, techniques to identify the causes for performance gaps

Selection and training

Competency, assessment and selection tools, psychometric tests, processes involved in choosing suitable candidate(s), candidate screening process, processes involved in making sure that job holders have the right skills, knowledge and attitudes required to help the organisation to achieve its objectives, training needs analysis, training delivery, adult learning, skill retention/fade

Health

Operational health, health problems brought into the workplace and affecting performance, health issues of passengers caused by railway interaction, health issues of public caused by railway issues, specific health issues that are relevant to rail

Human reliability

Human error, human reliability assessment / human reliability analysis (HRA), error probability rates, techniques to estimate error probabilities, probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) based techniques

Culture

Psychology, attitudes, experiences, perceptions, beliefs and values (personal and cultural values) of an organization, analysis and classification of organizational cultures, safety culture assessment tools, techniques to build organizational culture for high performance, behavioural safety, safety management systems, active and reactive safety performance monitoring, organisational change, leadership, supervision, communication

Job design

Physical and behavioural approaches to job design, task analysis, rules, processes and procedures, teamwork, guidelines and good practice for design, workload measurement

Equipment, workspace and environmental design

Ergonomics, equipment design failures, design of driver workstation, usability, human computer interaction (HCI), user-centred design, guidelines and good practice, evaluation methods, anthropometrics

Attitudes and behaviour

Work related attitudes, behaviour consequences, behavioural incentives, public attitudes to the rail, passenger behaviour

Other human factors

Anything which does not fit comfortably into another human factors subtopic

 


 

Policy and decision making subtopics

Examples of subjects that may be found within this subtopic

Risk evaluation and assessment

Risk modelling, risk assessment techniques, pre-cursors to accidents/incidents, ALARP

Interoperability

International cooperation, standardisation policies, international corridors, TSIs, interoperability legislation, cross-acceptance

Economic analysis and evaluation

Business cases, investment cases, value for money assessment, decision modelling

Sustainable development

Strategies, policies, influencing governments, carbon footprint

Enabling innovation

Path to market, encouraging development, removing obstacles, innovation incentives, knowledge management,  technology transfer, learning from other industries

Market research

Passenger surveys, freight company surveys, usage data

Social dynamics of transport

Passenger travel choices, encouraging passenger usage, multi-modal journeys/ end-to-end journeys

Commercial dynamics of transport

Commercial travel choices, franchising, economics, separation of freight/passenger lines, new routes/lines, intermodal freight journeys, international traffic, long distance traffic

Legal and regulatory frameworks

Vehicle acceptance bodies, privatisation and structure of the industry, international corridors, NoBos (Notified Bodies), DeBos (Designated Bodies)

Other policy and decision making

Anything which does not fit comfortably into another policy and decision making subtopic