Inoutput tackles data for Yarra Trams Night Network project

On January 1, 2016, Public Transport Victoria launched Melbourne’s Night Network – a one-year trial where trains, trams, buses and regional coaches operate through the night on weekends. The service includes all-night trains and trams, late night buses and a 2am coach service to regional centres on Friday and Saturday nights.

As an ongoing supplier, inoutput was engaged by Yarra Trams to determine the impact of 24-hour timetables on existing software systems and implement software changes required for the launch.

Along with this, inoutput has put in place a real-time data collection system to source and store real-time tram data, including data from the Night Network.

The data collected includes information about the tram network and can be used internally by Yarra Trams to track and analyse operational performance.

This information is stored in a ‘data warehouse’ which allows analysis and reporting over time as the data grows.

Inoutput director Chris Rickard said there were intricacies to consider with the shift from a single day tram timetable to a schedule running over continuous days to accommodate the new Night Network timetable.

“For instance, we’ve had to restructure multiple days of schedule information, and reformat them into a 24-hour timetable that trams can understand,” he said.

“The format of this timetable is important for Yarra Trams to ensure operational standards across existing software systems.”

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Rickard said inoutput was involved in the strategic approach of the project and how Yarra Trams could effectively merge multiple timetable systems.

“We had to consider challenges like managing daylight saving because it has not previously affected tram services as they had always ended before the daylight saving cutover time.

“A process like this has also needed a lot of testing, which can be tricky because you’ve got to simulate it and do real-time trials.

“As software architects, dealing with dates and times can be more complex than you’d think – especially dealing with a longer timetable cycle and taking into account daylight saving. It was quite an interesting exercise.”