By 2030 it is forecast that more than 10M people will be living in London, with the capital becoming just one of many “mega-cities” around the world.
As a result of this rapidly growing urban population, Britain’s transport systems are being placed under unprecedented levels of stress, with major roads, railways and airports increasingly running at or near full capacity for long periods of the day.
For Britain to continue to grow economically, fast and efficient transport routes are vital.
Transport operators must therefore meet this increasing demand, while moving people and freight safely, comfortably, quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively, getting them in the right place at the right time to make the infrastructure work efficiently.
Despite the deployment of cutting-edge technologies to make the UK’s current infrastructure networks function to their full capacity, Britain is nevertheless approaching the point where it will be physically impossible to move more trains through a railway or more cars down a section of road.
With land, financial and economic constraints, it is simply unfeasible to add another lane to every motorway, commission new high speed lines and build more runways. So, we have to think beyond this and consider the opportunities and benefits of integrating transport networks holistically.
This means ensuring that all modes of transport work seamlessly together, so that every journey is affordable, environmentally-friendly, comfortable and reliable, with timely and relevant information communicated to passengers throughout their journey, and managing energy in a way that until now has not been possible.
The technology to deliver this exists today, but not in an integrated way. Management systems for car parks, mainline railways, metros and traffic control are all highly sophisticated and effective, yet they all tend to operate in isolation.
For example, in the rail sector Siemens is working on applications for the digital railway programme, including the European Train Control System (ETCS) that allows trains to safely travel more closely to one another; providing the automatic train operation systems that allow technology to efficiently drive trains; providing complex train control systems to allow rail traffic to be managed across the entire network and providing the communications backbones that are necessary for this to become a reality.
In the road traffic management sector, Siemens is also working closely with partner organisations, local authorities and academia to develop applications that will positively inform people’s travel decisions.
These tools could ultimately form part of an integrated information and communications system that would help influence and shape travel usage across the whole transport network.
As demand on infrastructure increases, clearly there is a limit to how much technology can help. So, instead of just focusing on volume and capacity, Siemens is now also looking at passenger flows and consumer psychology to work out how journeys can be streamlined using an integrated mobility system.
By analysing commuter patterns and fully understanding the travelling public’s needs, intelligent solutions can be developed.
These include integrated traffic management to enable faster, more efficient journeys; and smart parking at stations to keep commuters informed in real time about parking availability. Accurate and timely information is at the heart of much of this development, enabling travellers to make smart decisions about their journeys.
The technology to deliver that vision exists today, but not in a “joined up” way. Car parks, main line railway, metro and traffic control systems tend to operate separately from one another.
By analysing how crowds commute and the needs of our passengers, Siemens is coming up with new solutions, such as smart parking at stations and integrated traffic management to enable faster, more efficient, hassle-free journeys for all.
Joined up journey
It is now possible to envisage a journey where a commuter is directed to the closest available parking space at the railway station and leaves their electric car on charge for the day – with any surplus stored energy being fed back into the system to power up the trains during peak hours.
A mobile phone alert then confirms this commuter’s train is on time and confirms their seat reservation. Shortly before arriving at the destination, a new alert informs them that due to a passenger incident, their preferred metro line is not operating, but by taking an alternative line they will only be delayed by two minutes – and there is space at the front of the train.
Clearly, the collation, analysis and delivery of accurate, trusted and relevant information is critical to the success of such systems and a good deal of work is already underway to develop them for practical operation.
To help deliver this, Siemens is working closely with other stakeholders (cities, architects, planners, infrastructure providers and operators etc.) to utilise existing technologies and develop new solutions – to help create a truly integrated mobility network.
In association with Siemens