Public transport group Go-Ahead is rolling out a high-speed IP network to support new applications including smart ticketing kiosks and centralised payroll.
The group, which operates services such as Thameslink trains, Metro buses and passenger handling for the airline British Midland, is investing £6.8m over the next five years on a 300-site wide area IP network operated by Cable & Wireless.
The investment will see the consolidation of a Frame Relay
infrastructure into a single IP network. This will allow Go-Ahead to implement applications more easily and save 35% on network running costs.
Go-Ahead also expects the network to enable its operating companies to provide more information to its customers regarding the status of train and bus services and the whereabouts of their baggage.
The transport group previously had three separate Frame Relay networks, one for its bus and aviation divisions and two others for its rail subsidiaries. These are being replaced by an IP virtual private network offering quality of service control, which will allow the transport provider to prioritise applications on the network.
The network provides a link into Sita, the global ticketing system, to support worldwide bookings for airline passengers.
David Lynch, the newly appointed group technology director at Go-Ahead, said that for the rail side of the business the network would support modernisation of ticket offices. "We have an integrated retail strategy to link self service [ticket] machines to the booking office," he said.
The idea is to allow passengers to collect pre-ordered tickets from ticket machines, rather than having to queue at the ticket office. The ticket office modernisation also involves the roll-out of chip and Pin terminals.
Additionally, he said, "We are looking to trial the Blackberry and Pocket PC [handheld computers]," which could be used by station staff to provide passengers with up-to-date information.
Lynch said payroll for the franchised rail services were outsourced to Atos Origin, linked via the Cable & Wireless Wan. For all other areas of the business, payroll along with financials, purchasing and revenue analysis is run on an Oracle ERP system.
- Hubs in Newcastle and East Croydon connected via 40mbps links to support disaster recovery and payroll
- Ticket office modernisation to enable chip and Pin and e-bookings
- Station ticket machine will be able to issue season tickets
- Links to Sita and Network Rail for scheduling information
- Connects Oracle across the group and links to Atos Origin payroll service.