Blackpool transport network receives digital radio upgrade

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A digital radio upgrade designed to help make Blackpool’s bus and tram operations one of the most modern in the UK, and to meet demand from local users and tourists, has been unveiled.

Blackpool Transport Services, which operates buses and trams throughout Lancashire’s Fylde Coast, will use a new digital radio system designed and installed by North West communications specialist TES Communication Solutions.

The upgrade will see the transport operator move away from conventional analogue radio technology to a  digital system. The works will include a new independent and resilient wide-area voice and data backhaul infrastructure meaning continuity of operations even in the event of power cuts or cellular outages.

Wayne Smith, operations manager at Blackpool Transport, said: “Our relationship with TES and our work to upgrade and future-proof our communications system is part of our wider strategic plans to embrace digital technology and continue to offer the very best for our customers and our staff.

“Being able to better support our front line staff with additional real time information is a really positive step forward.”

The new radio system will include a multi-terminal digital control desk to monitor and manage the vehicle fleet, essential for the efficient management of events such as roadworks, diversions or breakdowns.

Each vehicle, including Palladium buses and Flexity2 trams will have a new on-board radio installed, while inspectors will be equipped with mobile devices to allow them to communicate by voice and data to the main control desk or directly to vehicles.

According to TES, this means drivers will be equipped with better information, faster, and be able to relay this to customers, thereby offering an improved journey experience.

The system has been designed to prioritise passenger and driver safety by using a dedicated control channel that prioritises emergency calls, allowing for help and assistance to be arranged immediately, while all emergency calls are recorded for evidence should they be needed.

The upgraded system will also have the potential to allow Blackpool Transport buses to communicate with the central control centre when operating out of the greater Blackpool and Fylde area, allowing the operator to provide more long distance services such as rail replacement buses.

Similar technology has already been installed by TES Communication Solutions for the West Midlands Metro as it undergoes major expansion and the new system will also allow Blackpool Transport to better manage its fleet of vehicles as the tram network expands to a new terminus at Blackpool North train station.

Steve Smith, managing director of TES, said: “This is a huge upgrade on the system and means we can ensure coverage geographically as the network expands. It also means Blackpool Transport has the radio capacity to grow its services while improving driver and passenger safety.”

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