This thesis project investigated how user-centred design(UCD) contributes to the railway maintenance planning optimisation. A new UX concept and digital prototype were designed to provide intuitive interaction and clear structure to support the planners confidently and independently optimise railway maintenance planning on a digital platform. This project is under the context of the Dutch railway infrastructure maintenance. With increasing demands for transport on the Dutch railway, optimising maintenance planning for existing infrastructure is challenging for the Dutch railway network management organisation ProRail. Thus, a data-analytic software ProRail Maintenance(PRM) for railway maintenance planning optimisation was developed for the maintenance planners at ProRail. However, as an analytic tool, the outcomes and functions came first for the company while the user experience(UX) was neglected at first, which leads to a series of usability problems and requires much learning time from the users.Based on the above situation, two initial research questions were proposed: “What are the causes of these usability problems?” “Will UCD help to improve the UX of PRM and How?” A series of UCD methods were used in the whole process to understand users’ needs, generate and iterate concept and the final design was evaluated by the final evaluation test.The initial goal in the research phase was to understand the context, problems of PRM and causes and users. Literature research was conducted combined with interviews with experts to understand the Dutch railway maintenance planning. By analysing the qualitative and quantitative data collected from interviews and user testing of PRM, a list of problem statements, design goal and requirements were defined. In the design phase, a series of design activities with users(e.g co-creation session, prototype tests) were conducted to generate ideas and iterate the concept by prototype tests with users. By involving users in every stage of the process, I got instant feedback and had a deeper understanding of the users’ needs and quickly verify the hypothesis and iterate concept. The final concept called Macomi Maintenance consisting of four main functional pages: Homepage, Input, Analysis and Result. It covered the main operations needed to optimise the planning, which achieved an excellent usability performance evaluated by 8 participants in the online evaluation tests. It was found that showing information in an organised way(in this case I used cards and tabs) and provide enough guidance helped to reduce the time and fear of learning new software. All participants could finish the assigned tasks without hints in the evaluation test and show more willingness and confidence to learn Macomi Maintenance.
Master Thesis: TU Delft repository