James Abbott - Articles and news items

Safety & Security Supplement (free to view)

Issue 1 2012, Supplements  •  29 February 2012  •  James Abbott, James Kelly, Thierry Guinard

Sophisticated control keeps urban crowds moving (James Abbott, Technical Editor)
CCTV surveillance in focus for transport security (James Kelly, Chief Executive, British Security Industry Association)
Safety can’t wait! (Thierry Guinard, Safety and System Senior Engineer for Keolis LRT and Metro Department)

Updating communications systems with TETRA

Issue 5 2010  •  28 October 2010  •  James Abbott, Technical Editor

Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) is a digital trunked mobile radio standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). The purpose of the TETRA standard was to meet the needs of traditional Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) user organisations such as the military, those responsible for public safety at, for example, large sports events, and commercial and industrial organisations. The public transport sector is one such user.

Denmark’s national smartcard takes shape

Issue 3 2008, Past issues  •  30 June 2008  •  James Abbott, Technical Editor

In an interview with Eurotransport’s Technical Editor, James Abbott, Hans Holmgren, Technical Director of Rejsekort A/S, explains the current status of the smartcard project and how it will be implemented to streamline passenger journeys in Denmark.

Denmark’s new national public transport smartcard, the Rejsekort, is due to enter pilot operation later this year in a test area in the southern part of Zealand. This will be the beginning of a national roll-out that will see the card extended to the capital, Copenhagen, next year. In 2010/11 it is planned to extend the card to cover the Öresund region, which includes part of southern Sweden.

Controlling access to metros

Issue 1 2006, Past issues  •  31 March 2006  •  James Abbott, Technical Editor

Public transport authorities responsible for metros and other rail and bus systems are increasingly using access control systems to regulate access to their premises.

Recent security alerts on European metros have served to emphasise the benefits of systems that regulate access to stations and trains. Increased security awareness provides a potent reason for installing ticket gates, turnstiles and other barriers controlling access to stations, and platform screen doors that prevent access to tracks.

UITP highlights lessons to be learnt

Issue 4 2005, Past issues  •  6 December 2005  •  James Abbott, Technical Editor

London played host to a major conference organised by the UITP in November, discussing the terrorist threat facing public transport systems. James Abbott reports.

Suicide bomb attacks on the London Underground system in July 2005 underlined once again that public transport systems are a target for terrorists the world over – a point already made with such deadly effect in Tokyo, Moscow and Madrid.

CCTV: crucial rôle

Issue 3 2005, Past issues  •  19 September 2005  •  James Abbott, Technical Editor

Public transport systems the world over are at risk from terrorist attacks. Closed circuit television (CCTV) is a useful weapon in the authorities’ fight against terrorism and crime.

Not so long ago, CCTV systems were an optional extra for public transport authorities. Useful in identifying petty criminals, pictures shot on a transport authority’s property could often be valuable evidence in court.

Keeping metro track in good condition

Issue 2 2005, Past issues  •  24 June 2005  •  James Abbott, Technical Editor

Metro authorities are increasingly using hi-tech methods to inspect and analyse track condition with a view to improving ride quality and rail longevity.

Track maintenance on urban metros can demand different techniques to those used on main line railways. Train speeds are generally lower, but traffic is often dense. Frequently there is a high proportion of running in tunnel, with access difficult and little elbow room when the engineers do undertake work.

Authorities upgrade passenger information

Issue 2 2005, Past issues  •  24 June 2005  •  James Abbott, Technical Editor

Public transport services can be confusing in busy cities. This is especially the case for occasional users who are unfamiliar with the system. These are the people that city authorities are seeking to draw out of their cars. An unhappy time using public transport – getting on the wrong bus, tram or train, or anxiety about doing so – is just the sort of experience that will send such people back to their cars.

For this reason many public transport authorities are spending large sums on upgrading their passenger information systems. Not only do passengers want to be reassured they are getting on the right vehicle when it arrives, they also want to be told how long they have to wait for the next service.

Improving security on urban transport systems

Issue 2 2005, Past issues  •  24 June 2005  •  James Abbott, Technical Editor

Video cameras, platform access gates, plastic film on glass to prevent etching – these are just some of the ideas being used by public transport authorities to frustrate criminals and vandals.

Security is a big issue for public transport authorities. Not only are they concerned about keeping their own property safe from criminals, they also wish to keep a safe system to reassure passengers. “Statistics show that 73% of men and 89% of women are worried, or at least feel uncomfortable, about having to travel by bus or train late at night” says Verint RP, a US/German firm which manufactures video processing technology and fleet video management software. “The word ‘having’ distinctly stresses the lack of confidence in public transport for bringing passengers to their destinations safely and enjoyably.”

Smartcards storm the world’s cities

Issue 1 2005, Past issues  •  1 April 2005  •  James Abbott Technical Editor

More and more cities are ditching paper-based ticketing systems and adopting smartcards instead.

Smartcards are becoming more popular as mass production brings the price down and the advantages of ‘going smart’ become more apparent. Embedding a chip in a ticket is more expensive than holding data on a magnetic stripe on the back of a piece of card, but the enhanced management information the chip offers makes it worthwhile to make the switch. A chip can hold much more information than a magnetic stripe.

Helping to upgrade transport systems

Issue 1 2005, Past issues  •  1 April 2005  •  James Abbott Technical Editor

Many transport operators are buying in technical expertise – deregulation and privatisation are strengthening this trend. Consultancies are benefiting as a result.

Consultancies have come a long way in the past few decades, changing as their customers have changed. Not so long ago, public transport systems in Europe were almost exclusively in the hands of public sector operators. Back then, consultancies were generally offshoots of the state operators which were set up to advise cities in less developed parts of the world on ways in which to upgrade their public transport systems.