London Underground is investing #1 billion over the next 20 years on a new telecommunications system for the Tube network.
The CityLink Telecommunications consortium, led by Racal, won the contract for the Connect project to replace and manage the radio and transmission services for the Underground.
"Today the Tube consists of hundreds of different incompatible systems," said a London Underground spokesman. "Station radios and train radios don't work together; platform officers can't easily communicate with the station manager, who is then unable to communicate with customers. Currently we have a system which relies on a mixture of dot matrix screens, which some stations have, and white boards at the top of escalators for the rest, making the system inefficient and unreliable."
The new system promises help point facilities at every station offering passengers detailed information on where delays are and what stations are closed. All Underground staff will be able to communicate over the same network using radio technology based on the TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) standard, to provide integrated mobile communications to trains, stations and depots across the Tube.
The system will run on an optical fibre, high-speed transmission network to support services such as telephony, data, customer information systems and video transmission.
Clive Longbottom, strategy analyst at IT consultancy CSL, pointed out that if London Underground intends to spend 20 years putting this network in place, it is highly likely that come 2018, "the technology will be out of date, and if it integrates new technology as it goes along, this will mean constant disruption for the next two decades."
London Underground insisted that implementation of the new system would cause minimum disruption to passengers.
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