On February 8 London’s Docklands Light Railway officially began trials of Velocity on-board news and advertising programme display equipment. Four of the DLR’s articulated vehicles have been fitted with eight high-contrast TFT screens.

The screens show a 15 min programme of news, sport, transport information and advertisements, with content tailored to suit the time of day. A three-month trial of the commercial and technical viability of the equipment is under way, before a decision is made whether to fit the whole fleet with screens.

High bandwidth video adverts will be uploaded to the trains at night whilst they are in the depot. News and travel information will be updated in real time by the control centre throughout the day from transmitters alongside the route. The content is highly visual, with no sound track. News content provided by London’s Evening Standard newspaper will be updated six times each day, and advertising content will be provided by agents TDI, who deal with about 90% of on-board public transport advertising in Britain. Content is sent to a server at DLR’s Poplar depot, from where it is distributed by optic fibre to ’filling points’ along the route. Data is transmitted to the trains by 2·4GHz radio. Control can select a specific train to receive content, and not all trains will show the same material at the same time.

At present only DLR’s Bank - Canary Wharf line is equipped with the transmitters required to update the information shown, and when on other sections of the network the trains will cycle though the videos already uploaded and stored on their hard drives.

The wireless distribution system was developed by Wavelength-Digital Ltd, a part of Scipher. Setting up the trials, from the original concept to the four working trains, has cost £300000, including installing the distribution equipment. Wavelength-Digital hopes to use the broadband capabilities of the system to allow two-way communication, with CCTV images sent to a control centre, and vehicle incident logs downloaded so that statistical data can be gathered for failure prediction and prevention.

The TFT screens are supplied by München’s Infoscreen, and are housed in vandal-resistant casings.

Wavelength-Digital Ltd, Great BritainReader Enquiry Number 140