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Case Study:

Train Information Services - NREM Project

Nasstar delivers improved AWS infrastructure in National Rail Enquiry Modernisation project

This NRE Modernisation (NREM) project contracted to the Train Information Services Limited, (TISL) saw the redesign, build and deployment of the AWS infrastructure that runs and supports the latest iteration of the application (s). 

The National Rail Enquiries (NRE) service provisioned by RDG provides information on train times, routes, and fares to passengers travelling throughout the UK’s rail network. NRE’s information feeds are powered by three different sources known as Knowledgebase (KB), Darwin, and Online Journey Planner (OJP).

Nasstar has a strong relationship with TISL. We support the AWS-hosted business-critical applications and services that underpin TISL's digital solutions, including NRE.

Services

AWS Infrastructure and Monitoring Services

The Brief

The NRE solution, hosted on AWS, has evolved over many years and required a technical refresh to provide up-to-date services and a fresh progressive web application to replace the existing internal and public websites.

TISL engaged Nasstar as their trusted advisor to establish the infrastructure requirements for a new and improved NRE platform - a system that consists of two distinct tiers, the front-end and the back-end. 

The Benefits

Through close collaboration with TISL and its partners, this initiative has laid the foundation for an advanced and efficient infrastructure, setting new standards for online services in the railway industry.

One key advantage is the implementation of a resilient architecture that spans two of AWS's availability zones. This design ensures that the system maintains its operational capabilities even in the face of potential disruptions, enhancing overall reliability and minimising downtime.

The automatic scaling feature intelligently adjusts resource allocation based on container metrics. Leveraging serverless technology, this dynamic scaling mechanism ensures optimal performance and efficient resource utilisation to meet the evolving demands of users.

Terraform scripts will enable streamlined and swift deployments. With the ability to easily provision infrastructure, updates and new features can be rolled out quickly and efficiently.

The new solution is linked to the parent security hub. This integration guarantees a robust security framework, safeguarding the system and protecting sensitive data.

We also implemented a next-generation monitoring solution that leverages CloudWatch Monitoring and logs, statistical analysis, and machine learning algorithms. This system will provide real-time visibility, proactive issue identification, and data-driven insights.

The Solution

Nasstar, in collaboration with TISL and its third-party application vendors, undertook the initiative to design the new AWS infrastructure. This infrastructure was specifically tailored to accommodate the back-end application and web-based online services that customers interact with, most notably the Online Journey Planner (OJP).

For the front-end, Nasstar assumed responsibility for managing the underlying account and ensuring the performance and security of deployed resources. We monitored and analysed key metrics and logs, including those derived from containers and synthetics, to proactively safeguard the system's integrity. We also configured and maintained relevant dashboards to identify and address any potential issues.

For the back-end, Nasstar worked alongside TISL, and the third-party suppliers entrusted with publishing application container images to Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR). Through close collaboration, we adapted the infrastructure to accommodate the necessary changes communicated by the suppliers. Our expert team oversaw all deployed resources, configuring the Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) Fargate framework to optimise functionality.

Throughout the project, we worked closely with TISL and its third-party suppliers to deploy, test, and refine the solution. An iterative release plan was devised, ensuring new elements were introduced in stages with the support of the project team. Once successfully implemented at the end of May 2023, the solution was transitioned to the capable hands of the Managed Service team, guaranteeing ongoing support and maintenance.

As a trusted partner to RDG, we engaged Nasstar early on in the design phase of the website upgrade. Nasstar was able to supply highly skilled resources to help us build the solution and offer advice and technical support throughout the development phase. Nasstar was able to adapt and respond to our changing needs as the rail industry moves around us! We continue to work with Nasstar through the next phases of the NRE Modernisation programme and they will remain a key partner in our success.

Claire Smith
Senior Project Manager, Rail Delivery Group