INCREASED internet use is revolutionising access to pre-journey information, but passengers still need a wide range of media providing details to guide them through the journey.

SNCF is about to expand its internet service to include the ability to make seat reservations direct. The website ( requests journey details, which are fed to the reservations system, and an indication of the price displayed on screen. The prospective passenger must then pay for the tickets and reservations at a station or travel centre within three days. From next year, it will be possible to pay electronically, and tickets will be posted to the customer’s home address. As well as simplifying remote ticket purchase, it will also cut the cost of the service compared with the present Minitel-based system which can add 10% to the ticket price.

WS Atkins is leading a consortium developing EuroSPIN for the European Commission’s Telematics Application Programme. This will create a ’Seamless Passenger Information Network’ providing details of rail, tram, bus, ferry and air services, drawn from transport operator databases.

Provision of detailed information for passengers was a central part of the plans for MTR’s rail link to Hong Kong’s new airport. GPT Strategic Networks provided communications for the 34 km line, including 1000 telephones, 4200 loudspeakers, 400 CCTV cameras, 100 monitors, 200 information display screens and 1500 km of cable, the backbone of which uses optic fibres and SDH transmission. On-train seat-back TV screens offer news, flight and tourist information, with dot-matrix displays on stations giving the latest journey details.

Helping passengers at stations

London’s Paddington station will see the first large scale use of plasma display screens. Postfield Systems is overseeing development of software and commissioning. Ferrograph is supplying 157 screens (RG 3.98 p155) for £2·2m. The first phase, comprising two gantries on the main concourse (right) each comprising 22 Plasma 42 1·07m display units, is due to go live this month. Other screens will be positioned along the 14 platforms, with the whole system completed in October 1999.

Commuters on British Columbia’s West Coast Express have a better chance of getting to work on time or making connections with other transport operators thanks to a system designed by AVL International. It uses customised off-the-shelf hardware and software running on a standard Pentium PC to display a conventional rail synoptic map and a street map view of the position of each train in real time throughout its route.

The AVL programme generates schedule adherence information on each train for the WCE dispatch centre, which can then co-ordinate passenger transfers to other operators at the eight stations along the way. Trip Logs of each run are automatically created for performance auditing and the administration of contractual service obligations of the CP Rail-owned line.

Each train has been fitted with a Sierra Wireless MP200/GPS cellular CDPD modem with an internal Trimble Global Positioning System receiver. This automatically reports the train’s ID, position, speed and direction of travel every 100m. Further information is available from the AVL web site at

Philips Communications & Security Systems has introduced its SM25B public address sound management system, offering ’plug-and-play’ installation and features normally associated with more costly equipment. High reliability is achieved through a built-in output monitor which can switch to a stand-by should a main amplifier fail.

Additional call stations can be connected by ’daisy chaining’ together, simplifying installation. Series, branch or loop configurations with up to nine call stations can be easily configured, with further expansion possible with extension units. Philips also produces a Windows-based program to help design and install SM25B-based public address equipment. o

CAPTION: Ferrograph has supplied two concourse information units using Plasma 42 display screens for London’s Paddington station. Software and commissioning was by Postfield Systems