14 weeks
time to market
cog 4 systems 
integrated, including AutoDesk's MapGuide
chart 75% reduction
of the approval process time

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REFER develops a web application to automate communication between train stations, with OutSystems Platform

The Challenge:

REFER is a leading transportation company responsible for managing the entire Portuguese railroad infrastructure, including construction and maintenance works. When a certain area of the railroad is under construction or maintenance, train speed limitations have to be imposed, conditioning the normal railway traffic.

Accessing and distributing the information related to the speed limitations, which was stored in several different applications, was done using a manual and time consuming process. REFER needed to create a new system to manage this mission critical process.

The new system would have to centralize and automate all the information gathering and distribution. It should also provide a set of workflows for the speed limitations approval process.


The Solution:

A collaborative and centralized web business application, the eLV, was created using OutSystems Platform:

  • Existing applications were integrated to create a centralized access point for all relevant information;
  • The speed limitation definition and approval process is now supported by a standard workflow, using Email notifications. By clicking the links provided in the Email, users are automatically taken to a web interface where they can perform the required operations;
  • Once approved, the Speed Limitation information is automatically processed and compiled into a document that is distributed via Web Services and automatically printed in every train station that is affected by the speed limitation;
  • The eLV application periodically receives the status of each train station via Web Services. In case a problem is detected, an automatic Email is sent to the system administrator;
  • Information is displayed in charts and maps available via Web interfaces. With a simple click on the map, users can select the part of the itinerary they wish to analyze. This visual interface provides a fast and intuitive information display;
  • Depending on each user profile, the application provides specific contents and operations for each of the resources involved in the process. The permission areas are highly customizable, ensuring that users with the same profile, but from different regions of the country, can only access and act upon specific information;
  • Financial damages resulting from train delays are automatically determined by the application, providing valuable management information;
  • New train stations are registered and configured automatically by the application, using the information coming from central systems.



  • Seamless integration of existing core systems - REFER was able to leverage previous IT investments, by taking advantage of the platform's capabilities to easily integrate existing systems. These integration components can be reused in future projects, further reducing the time-to-market of new solutions;
  • Built-in support for Web Services - By using Web Services, the eLV system is able to communicate in a standard and automated way with geographically dispersed systems that are located in each train station. OutSystems Platform allows REFER to extend the adoption of a Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) by promoting the reuse of existing services to compose new applications, thus reducing future investments and accelerating the delivery of new solutions;
  • Multi-Channel support - The eLV system reaches users through the best fit interface (Web and Email), taking advantage of the multi-channel support provided by the platform and can be extended to mobile phones or PDA's;
  • Built-to-Change - The simplicity with which applications are created and maintained allows Refer to ensure they are constantly aligned with business needs. This creates unique opportunities for the IT department to react faster to what the business is demanding, not only in terms of maintenance of the existing applications but also in delivering new solutions.


About Refer:

REFER is responsible for managing the railway infrastructures in Portugal, conducting its activities according to the principles of modernization and effectiveness so as to assure the continuous and regular supply of the public service.

Visit Refer website




  • Speed Limitation approval process end-to-end time reduced from 1 month to 1 week.
  • Reusability of integration components;
  • Thousands of documents automatically delivered every day to train stations all over the country;
  • All information centrally available to REFER users according to their specific profile;


Project Card

Implemented by:



Autodesk MapGuide; Active Directory; e-Viriato; Sitra.


Evaluation Criteria

  • Fast application releases;
  • Flexibility and easy implementation of changes to guarantee constant business alignment;
  • Ability to easily integrate with specific and closed legacy systems;
  • Scalability (ability to progressively enlarge project scope);
  • Strong authentication and access control mechanisms.
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