First ScotRail, Scotland's national rail service provider, is the largest of the 25 British passenger train operators for route miles, second for train miles and fourth for passenger journeys, with some 2,000 suburban, interurban and rural services daily. Part of the FirstGroup, it is investing substantially in station improvements, on-train surveillance and passenger information systems, to enhance the quality of service and facilities to customers.
First ScotRail is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for customers and staff and set out at the start of the franchise to invest more than US$8.3 million on installing safety systems.
The company is also committed to improving customer information, particularly at times of disruption. With this in mind, First ScotRail embarked on a project to improve the monitoring of activity at all of its stations and to combine that function with a two-way customer information system, designed to improve customer safety, reduce delays and provide information.
A key element of this strategy has been a rolling implementation program of online surveillance systems and audio “Help Points,” designed to reassure passengers, provide train information and deter crime and vandalism. Pictures from cameras installed at networked stations are digitally compressed and transmitted continuously to First ScotRail's manned communication centers, while audio links simultaneously provide two-way voice traffic. The scheme has proved successful on all counts, according to CCTV Project Manager Jim Anderson, and with the support from the Scottish government and regional transport partnerships, it is expected to be extended from the present 232 stations to almost 300.
The phased installation program has involved ADT Fire & Security since its inception in early 1996, Sensormatic (subsequently acquired by ADT Fire & Security) was responsible for the initial 13-station pilot scheme, which proved the concept and was extended to 32 stations and is now at 240 stations.
Subsequently, ADT has now installed surveillance systems at 156 stations, and are responsible for the majority of the monitoring equipment within the communications centers.
Each station has been equipped with at least one controllable PTZ camera and up to 30 fixed units, to enable surveillance of platform areas, footbridges and subways, access routes and car parks.
The cameras are all high-resolution CCD models with a sensitivity of 0.4 lux that delivers accurate color reproduction under adequate light conditions, for optimum detection and identification. The cameras are mounted in vandal-resistant, waterproof housings and are alarmed to prevent tampering, with a PTZ unit programmed to respond on any position under threat. The station lighting is timer-controlled to switch off 30 minutes after the last train, so passive IR detectors have been wired into the circuit to activate the lights in the event of an intruder.
A “Help Point” unit is strategically positioned on each platform, providing a two-way speech link with both East and West Coast CCTV Communications Centers. This “Help Point” is contained in a robust, stainless steel housing, offering wind and weather protection, and is fitted with buttons for assistance or information. The Help Points are also fitted and connected with an Induction Loop which provides the assistance to passengers with hearing difficulties, to date ADT has installed 251 devices. When either button is pressed, a PTZ camera is preset to focus on the passenger, enabling the operator to monitor the situation and, if necessary, warn off a potential offender by means of the audio transmission system and specially installed loudspeakers.
At each site, the camera images are recorded on a TCP/IP digital video server with HD storage up to 1,200 gigabytes; live and recorded images, alarms and audio are transmitted via network links to the communications centers which allow the operators to monitor live and recorded incidents and deal with any information queries.
The on-site information is transmitted from the remote sites to the communication centers using a minimum 256-kilobyte link, rising to 2 megabytes for some locations over IP technology. This is achieved using a router at either end of the point-to-point connection which feeds the surveillance systems.
At the communications centers, color images from each site are displaying remote activity produced by TCP/IP video-out codecs and are presented on HD monitors within a monitor wall. The operator control is facilitated by control PCs which allow for interrogation and display of images from the remote digital video server and allow incidents to be viewed and stored on a centralized video server.
In the middle of the wall, there are two 42-inch LCDs to allow the shift manager to monitor enlarged images from any surveillance site. The announcer uses the second screen to display lists of trains to enable them to monitor train running. The plasmas will also shortly be used to display Tyrell messages which will be sent by the control customer services managers.
The storage of the images and incidents is vital to the working relationship with the British Transport Police, and through the connection of all surveillance systems via the control center, First ScotRail is able to work quickly and efficiently in assisting the police with incident investigation and the provision of footage. The network link installed for the surveillance has also enabled us to install customer information systems at stations.
At present, ADT has 46 remote sites controlled by the East Coast Communications Control Center, monitoring some 938 cameras with another 95 cameras to be installed through new works on five new sites. At the West Communications Control Center, 110 remote sites are controlled and monitored by some 1,554 cameras with another 45 cameras to be installed on a new site.
To date, ADT has installed 51 customer information systems and is in the process of installing additional 10 systems in the Strathclyde area. The display equipment on the platforms will typically comprise of single or double sided clock and next train indicator LED display, or Double sided Next Train Indicator LED displays and 17” and/or 20” TFT monitors in the Ticket offices and waiting areas. The display equipment in public areas is housed in suitable enclosures.
“The ‘Help Points' have contributed markedly to customer communications, by providing a direct speech link with First ScotRail staff, for assistance and information. The surveillance facility has minimized incidents of vandalism and graffiti, as well as acting as an effective intruder deterrent out of service hours and at unmanned stations. At the same time the surveillance facility with combined PA is an excellent deterrent for the misuse of the help point button.