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Helping Keep British Trains on Track

Software developer and Adobe Business partner, Mapsoft Computer Services, Limited, has created a unique Adobe Acrobat-based solution for Network Rail  in the United Kingdom.

The Problem

“When you’re driving a train at 125 miles per hour, the last thing you want to do is hunt through a big thick book covering the whole country, searching for information about track conditions on your specific route. You need to be able to quickly access the latest updates on what’s happening on your particular piece of line,” says Michael Peters, technical director of Mapsoft Computer Services, Limited.

That was the challenge behind Mapsoft’s creation of WONView, a customized software solution for Network Rail (formerly Railtrack) in the United Kingdom. Before Mapsoft’s involvement four years ago, each train operating company (TOC) was issued a complete set of Weekly Operating Notices (WONs) detailing conditions of every mile of track in the country. The train operating company in turn furnished this document to each train operator. The train operator then had to sift through this enormous document, while simultaneously operating the train to determine current track conditions on his/her specific route.

Adobe Acrobat and WONVIEW

Using Adobe Acrobat, Mapsoft created its WONView software for Network Rail to generate a weekly Adobe PDF file for every Network Rail area. Collectively, these files contain all information regarding all maintenance, line closures, signaling problems, speed restrictions, etc., throughout the UK.The WONView system then searches each file and extracts specific information for a given route, creating separate books for each train operating company. The drivers now receive printouts of their own unique books for quick reference in their cabs. The train operating companies can also easily access specific files to review repair work and other maintenance information in their respective areas.

PDF and Adobe Acrobat - the Industry Standards

“A primary reason we used Adobe Acrobat is because Network Rail information is safety critical,” says Peters. “Adobe PDF can be password protected to maintain the original document’s integrity. Specific information can be extracted from a secure file and reconfigured into a new secure file, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to the data.” As the reports are published weekly, Network Rail also needed a way to distribute the WONs rapidly. “Adobe PDF files are compact, which makes them easy to upload and download quickly.” Peters continues. “And, Adobe PDF retains all fonts, formatting, images, and layout intact. So the WONs maintain railway document standards, and the files print out exactly as intended across the TOC’s broad range of hardware and software.”

Who are Mapsoft

Mapsoft Computer Services, Limited, formed in 1991, is an Adobe Business Partner. Mapsoft is one of the most experienced providers of software development and consulting for Adobe Acrobat, and Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. We are also OEM licensees of Adobes PDF Library.


Michael Peters

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