Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Racal Group Services (IT 114)

A NEW DEAL FOR TRANSPORT: BETTER FOR EVERYONE

THE GOVERNMENT'S WHITE PAPER ON THE FUTURE OF TRANSPORT

1. INTRODUCTION

  Racal fully supports the aims and content of the White Paper—though from a purely parochial perspective one topic—namely that of "Vehicle Fleet Management Systems"—we believe should have had more emphasis.

  If we have any general concerns, they are that:

    —  there may be too much delay between the proposals and their implementation, with the momentum gained thus far being lost;

    —  funding may be inadequate to implement the proposals and to maintain the transport infrastructure (paragraphs 2.13-2.14). In this context the proposed road tolling and congestion charging schemes (paragraphs 4.100 to 4.104) are especially significant;

    —  there was little focus on electronics and communications technologies and the so-called "Intelligent Transport Systems" which must be a vital and key part of a future sustainable and properly integrated transport system.

  We would therefore urge the Government to:

    —  implement the proposed schemes as soon as possible (with pilot schemes and research programmes for technology which is not yet sufficiently proven), to maintain momentum;

    —  ensure that new legislation is in place as soon as possible—this is particularly important in the case of road user charging—with guidelines to permit new schemes to proceed under existing legislation where possible;

    —  publish the White Paper's associated documents (see Annex A to the White Paper) as soon as possible. (We are pleased that the English Roads Review and the equivalent Scottish and Welsh Transport Statements have already been published).

2. SPECIFIC POINT FROM THE WHITE PAPER

  We agree in general with the philosophies expressed in parts I ("A new deal for transport") and II ("Sustainable and Integrated Transport").

1.27 Better information for travellers, enforcement of bus lanes

  Lack of information is known to be a deterrent to use of public transport. Transport companies should be encouraged to invest in better information systems, for which the technology is readily available, however a uniform standard for the format of the information will facilitate the introduction of systems from different suppliers (paragraph 3.65). For example Racal Telecom has its very successful TORUS Traveller Information System for the UK rail network, this has been implemented for Thames Trains and is currently being proposed to other Train Operating Companies. This system is also applicable to bus operating companies thus enabling a truly integrated transport system.

  Bus lane infringements can easily be detected by using the Racal Messenger TALON licence plate recognition system. In combination with pollution detectors, Talon can also be used to identify polluting road vehicles (paragraphs 1.35, 2.7-2.8, 4.178-4.182).

3.24, 3.48-3.50 Innovation, better information before and when travelling

3.65-3.78 Timetable co-ordination, service stability, passenger information

3.92-3.99 Accessible transport for disabled people and easier access for all

  Racal Telecom, with the company's own Internet Service provider company called "Quza", is a major partner in a European Commission funded R&D project called EuroSPIN which is designed to make multi-modal public transport information available over the Internet. EuroSPIN details will be found on the following web-site http://www.eurospin.org.

  We agree with paragraph 3.65 that " . . . requiring operators to provide service and schedule information electronically in a standard format" is important if EuroSPIN is to be able to provide comprehensive multimodal information. Ideally this requirement should include fare information (including rail fares—paragraphs 4.17 to 4.18), which may be an important determinant of whether a journey is made or which mode of transport is used.

  Elderly and disabled people have a particular need for information on travel facilities. EuroSPIN is addressing this issue, but it is not a major thrust of the project.

  Racal is keen to be part of the formation of a group that will address the National Travel Information System, but the guidelines as to the systems connectivity and accessibility as well as the timescales for and style of the mandate to transport companies needs to be announced.

3.133 The controlled motorway trial on the M25

  This is a successful and publicly acceptable example of the use of electronics, computer control, variable message signs and photographic enforcement techniques which lead to more efficient use of the road space whilst at the same time reducing accidents and pollution. Implementation should now occur on other congested parts of the motorway network. At the same time the technology should be upgraded to the use of video cameras and electronic enforcement systems such as the Racal Messenger Talon product. The traffic flow data gathered will also be useful to Driver Information Systems.

3.136-3.140 The Highways Agency as network operator

3.145 Better information for the driver

  We would encourage the provision of Regional Traffic Control Centres in England to monitor and manage the motorway and principal trunk route network. We are encouraged to see that the Highways Agency is already pursuing these proposals as PFI or Public Private Partnerships. The DETR should also be directed to forge a strong link between RTCC operations and Urban Traffic Management and Control (UTMC) systems to ensure there is seamless operation. Racal Telecom's experience in provision and maintenance of Rail Operational Telecom Systems can readily be extended to provide, manage and with others maintain and operate, the Road Network.

  We approve of giving the Highways Agency the responsibility for providing roadside information, and the encouragement of a competitive market in more specialised information services for individuals and companies. Industry would expect to be empowered to commercially exploit value-added traffic report information, and to include other operations like emergency call-handling and roadside recovery as part of the service provision.

  With the advent of new vehicle telematic systems, like the Racal Tracs/Global Telematics "Orchid" service, which already provides specialised vehicle location, fleet management, and transport information services to a complete spectrum of road users, more efficient use of both vehicles and roads is possible. Orchid uses the short message service on GSM Cellular telephone networks to report routinely, on demand, or under specific conditions, the user position and status to a control centre. Conversely the control centre can issue instructions and information to the mobile user using the same communication channels.

  Orchid also offers voice communication, and bureau services such as real-time traffic information, route planning, roadside assistance, fleet management, vehicle tracking, and "Geo-fencing" (a notification that a vehicle has entered or left an area—which has a number of applications including electronic tolling). Further services will include violation alert, security tracking, remote vehicle diagnostics and remote lock/unlock.

  Services such as Orchid are of significant benefit to both the individual and to fleet operators, and can make a major contribution to traffic reduction through better control, improvements to the environment, less congestion, stricter adherence to routes, high value load security, re-routing and reduction in empty return journeys.

  We believe serious consideration should be given to mandating operators of vehicle fleets (perhaps over a certain size) to install vehicle location/fleet management systems.

3.81-3.91 Travelling without fear

3.241 Railway safety

  The areas around train and bus stations and sometimes even airports are generally not regarded by the travelling public as being as safe as they should be and that adequate surveillance (e.g., CCTV) has to be implemented as a means of allaying those fears. Similarly situations arise on board the trains and buses (not generally planes) where incidents frequently occur, and again CCTV monitoring will be beneficial.

  Racal Telecom has implemented Closed Circuit Television systems throughout the UK Rail Network for surveillance purposes. The company's latest innovation is "Redwing" which transmits images of the platform edge directly into the driver's cab, permitting the driver to monitor both passenger activity and train boarding, thus avoiding passengers being caught in a closing door and dragged along the platform. The system can be further developed to integrate the In-Carriage CCTV being introduced and disseminating those images to a control room. The system could also be extended to operate with other modes of transport such as buses.

3.141-3.144 Helping the road user

  We support the adoption of improved CCTV systems along the road network to cover enforcement and generally provide the human interpretation of traffic operation. We are aware that the Highways Agency intends to replace emergency telephones and it is our view that these should not be over-specified, but should include interfaces to modern telecommunications systems.

3.189 Integrated airports

  A number of Racal initiatives are currently underway to increase the efficiency of airport operations. These include real-time tracking systems for "airsides" vehicle movements, personnel monitoring and improved baggage handling. These initiatives are targeted at security and efficiency improvements, as well as enhancing the smooth flow of passengers, their luggage, and freight through the airport.

  The Flightwatch world-wide aircraft monitoring system has recently been installed for British Airways at Heathrow, and already extra systems and further functionality have been ordered. The system improves work allocation and the use of asset through continuing and up-to-date knowledge of location and status.

4.4-4.6 Commission for Integrated Transport

  This panel should be established as soon as is feasible. Membership should include senior industrials with experience of transport operations and of systems provision.

4.12-4.18 The Strategic Rail Authority

4.19-4.37 Railways, passengers, the Rail Regulator, Investment

  To delay the full establishment of the SRA would be a retrograde step since one of its intended functions is to monitor investment by Railtrack and to improve the effectiveness of the Rail Regulator.

4.68 Investment in London Underground

  Racal is part of the CITYLINK consortium the single preferred bidder for Project Connect and is investing considerable sums of money (c. £300 million) under PPP/PFI criteria.

4.71- 4.72 Passenger Transport Authorities and Executives PTAs and PTEs

  We agree with the key role of PTAs/PTEs in provision of an integrated transport system. Racal Telecom is already working with PTEs, particularly GMPTE in Manchester and with METRO in Leeds in respect of operational telecoms services and information provision for travellers.

4.92-4.99 Tackling congestion and pollution on local roads

4.100-4.104 Charging users on motorways and trunk roads

  We are fully supportive of the Government's proposals in these areas. With a number of other large organisations and Local Authorities we are participating in a study led by the Adam Smith Institute and the Smith Group to identify suitable locations for trials of tolling schemes. We look forward to the publication of the Consultation Document and we would urge that the necessary legislation be implemented as soon as is feasible.

  Public acceptability is crucial. The evidence, from surveys in the UK and from experiences abroad, is that the public will accept road pricing if the reasons for implementing it are clearly explained and if the revenues are used to improve other modes of transport.

5.26-5.28 Teleworking

  Racal Telecom has developed a product called "NSURE REMOTE" to allow employees to access their corporate network conveniently and securely from any remote location, mobile or static, using whatever communications systems are available.

RELEVANT RACAL TECHNOLOGIES AND PRODUCTS

  We have pleasure in attaching information on the Racal products and services we have mentioned in the text, as an indication that in most cases the technology is already available to implement the vision of the White Paper.[10]

  Brochures and Press Releases on:

    —  Racal TRACS and Orchid

    —  TORUS

    —  CONNECT and CITYLINK

    —  Talon

    —  EuroSPIN

September 1998


10   Not printed. Back


 
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