ASL Public Address System Alerts UK Rail Station

ASL Safety & Security are working with Babcock Rail in Glasgow to replace Network Rail's legacy long-line public address (LLPA) system at 39 stations operated by ScotRail around the city center and surrounding urban areas as part of an infrastructure upgrade.

ASL's VoIP-based LLPA solution is operating from intelligent amplifier mainframes installed at individual stations encompassing an area as far as Newton, Barrhead and Neilston. Amplification is provided by highly efficient modular amplifiers.

The solution combines routing, Ethernet connectivity and loudspeaker line monitoring in a compact 2U fanless frame which is tested for rail and other transport infrastructure applications. The Glasgow project uses amplifier units running the VIPA operating system. VIPA is ASL's voice over IP (VoIP) public address software, a library of IP-enabled solutions such as text to speech, message fragment storage and multicast functionality for Windows and Linux platforms.

ScotRail's operational hub for the area is at Paisley. The operator oversees the system's front end using ASL's PA/VA control and monitoring platform which offers real-time display of announcement zone status and translucent overlay of customizable PA/VA zones. The system uses distributed architecture with a messaging backbone based on the messaging and presence protocol.

“The adoption of this technology in our stations will deliver a service to the travelling public and make journeys a more enjoyable experience by providing clear train information,” said Ian Findlay, Senior Project Engineer at Network Rail.

ASL's amplifiers have been developed specifically for rail projects where close integration of PC/DVA with Customer Information System (CIS) functions is called for. Operators and maintainers receive status information on all PA equipment with a upgrade path allowing related safety and security subsystems such as surveillance, access control and passenger help points to be controlled and monitored using the same 2-D or 3-D GUI.

“Babcock Rail, in cooperation with Network Rail, has put together a solution and a delivery team who are committed to working with ASL and Cisco as suppliers to provide an equipment replacement strategy that guarantees message delivery while working reliably on legacy copper. Another success was Network Rail's unusual decision to record announcements using a member of staff,” said Peter Andrews, ASL's Head of Projects.

“In contrast with the previous generation of public address systems, VIPA allows assembly of message fragments at the station level,” Andrews said. “Operators are merely triggering data that is stored locally. Telecoms engineers will immediately recognize the bandwidth efficiency and built-in redundancy of this approach.”

Babcock Rail is the Glasgow-based rail division of Babcock International. It is a major player in the UK rail infrastructure market, delivering track renewals works, signaling and control systems as well as rail power solutions. Babcock is the largest track renewals contractor in the UK.
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