Supporting track renewals

Working in collaboration with Network Rail in the UK, THINKlab have produced a range of simulation modules which can be used to support track renewal programmes.

The team have successfully worked on 15 projects across the UK rail network and the simulation has progressed from an academic prototype to a fully functional commercial software product. They bring together decades of real-world railway engineering experience and skilled software experts which includes  designers, developers and 3D artists, who together have produced an exceptional tool which is fully accessible and effortless to use.

The solution has won both academic and industry awards and has attracted external investment as well as direct industry funding.

Modules & Functionality



The software makes it easy to build 3D site models using a wide range of data sources, including BIM models of OLE, P-Way & Signalling. The module allows the positioning of laser scanned track data onto a 3D GIS terrain which allows users to make accurate measurements. It includes accurate computer  models of commonly used plant and equipment to allow the visualization of engineering works.


Using a library of activities, the software enables users to define resources and construct a Time and Distance plan showing task interdependences. Users can make ongoing changes and produce multiple variants of the plan. A costing function provides an accurate view of the financial cost of the work.The  plan can be viewed in its Time and Distance bar-chart form, on a track schematic and in the simulation window, all simultaneously.


The simulation automatically updates as you plan, letting users visualise the works in lifelike 3D, from any camera perspective, magnification and at any speed. Unlike the conventional approach to computer modelling, the planning and simulation aspects of the software work together, so that outcomes  of the planning are represented immediately in the simulation. This shortens feedback loops which creates faster planning because engineers and planners are not reliant on computer-modelling specialists to see the implications of ongoing changes and updates to their plans.


“This is different. You can see the plan and see how it will work. We have to deliver more for less as part of the railway upgrade plan and this is a planning package for now, that will take us into the future.” Steve Naybour, Head of Transformation, Network Rail South Alliance.

“Much faster planning – in the past it would take a full week to plan a weekend’s work. Today, it takes 4 hours.” Steve Naybour, Head of Transformation, Network Rail South Alliance. “

“Eliminate Waste - whereas we might have used 5 pieces of equipment for a job, we can often use 2 or 3 and with this package we can see and prove what will need in advance.” Stephen Kearney, Head of S&C, Network Rail South Alliance. (2016).

“We can see constraints of the site, and spot conflicts on-screen. We can even make last minute changes and still be confident they’ll work.” Roy Hickman, Programme Engineering Manager (2018).

“The models have assisted the delivery team in the preparation of core works and also had considerable health and safety benefits.” Basharat Mahfooz, Scheme Project Manager, Network Rail (2018).

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Simulation 1 Simulation 2 Simulation 3 Simulation 4 Simulation 5 Simulation 6