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A mobile app could be the solution for Motorways’ electronic tolling system

Νίκος Καραγιάννης

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In the past decade and during a severe economic crisis, Greece has managed to complete its first major motorway network, amounting to approximately 2,100 km, creating a solid basis for the development of road transport, with an impact both for the country itself and the Balkans.

Following this development, the Greek motorways, as the cornerstone of the coutry’s infrastructure, are now challenged to move to the next stage and align with the ‘new generation’ of motorways, by incorporating smart technologies and advanced methods that have been launched and applied in major countries around the world.

It is a “new generation” of infrastructure with a more anhropocentric approach that uses the most advanced transport systems (Advanced Transport Systems) and Artificial Intelligence, in order to deliver personalized services to the user in real time.

The benefits are many as they upgrade all road safety, infrastructure management and maintenance levels to an efficient and sustainable cost-benefit ratio. Such practices have already taken place in various European countries (e.g. England, the Netherlands, etc.) and the question now posed is, what is the next day of the ‘new generation’ of Greek motorways as well as the means that will lead us there.

Interoperability in Greece, now a reality

One of the first, major developments recorded is the agreement of all motorways’ management companies, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport to make interoperability a reality. It is reminded that the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Mr. Kostas Karamanlis, in a recent speech, commenting on the subject, announced that drivers will soon be able to cross all motorways of the country, with one receiver.

This first measure eliminates the multiple machines that create a confusion while driving on the Greek motorway network. For example, a driver who starts from Athens to Thessaloniki will go through 4 different motorway companies and will need three different machines. With the application of interoperability, it will be made possible to every vehicle using a single receiver, to use it throughout the journey.

A mobile app to ‘unlock’ electronic tolls

One of the leading companies, on a global level in the field of smart mobility services, IBI Group, which is also an active player in our country, is once again presenting an innovative service that could be described as the dawn of a new ‘smart mobility and interaction era’ between users and operators of the Greek motorways.

This is a location-based application providing real-time information, offering interactive maps specially designed for safe in-motion use (trip planning services) including weather and traffic incidents. It also includes features such as emergency calls and a range of feeds-based information, designed to position the motorway user ‘at the heart’ of the trip.

On the other hand, for users with electronic receivers, the application provides multiple management options such as balance updates, billing information as well as real-time account recharging.

The mobile application takes interoperability to a whole new level having as top priority the security. Just a few months ago we experienced the entrapment of drivers due to heavy snowfall. By using the app (and if drivers have it installed on their smartphones) they would have received an urgent notification informing them of impending adverse weather.

It is also extremely important to reduce the installation and operating costs of this particular mobile application. As the head of IBI Group in Greece, Antulio Richetta, says, the estimated amount needed to cover the application nationwide may be significantly reduced compared to 2018 e-tolling tender, budgeted at 400m euros.

Service to be launched on the first Motorway

This application has already caught the interest of concessionaires with Olympia Motorway pioneering once again with the so-called ‘hybrid’ tolling system, having begun to be implemented it in collaboration with IBI Group.

The app is expected to be available for Olympia Motorway users in the Spring of 2020, launching a new “mobile” era on the Greek motorway network.

Speaking to ypodomes.com, Mr.Richetta pointed out:

‘This is a highly advanced and at the same time easy-to-use tool that can help us understand, come closer and finally serve the Greek motorway users at the best level. Also, future improvements to this application will be able to replace many existing devices, always in combination with the necessary equipment at the gantries (for control and fine enforcement purposes) as well as the appropriate analytic tools that will be able to offer a cheaper, a more user-friendly and reliable tolling system.’

The mobile application is connected to vehicle screens and is extremely easy to use as it requires just a simple registration and some key elements that will allow the driver or passenger to be updated in real time.

Most importantly, it promotes safety, and if this application saves even one human life, it’s definitely worth thinking about adopting it.

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K. Karamanlis proposes extensive undergrounding of the train line reaching Patras

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Κώστας Καραμανλής

A very interesting panel was held today in Patras, within the framework of the 8th Regional Growth Conference organized by “Peloponnisos” newspaper.

During the session entitled: “Regional Policy and New Infrastructure”, the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Mr. Kostas Karamanlis,referred to major infrastructure projects in the region and announced the government’s proposal for extensive undergrounding of the train route to Patras (between Kanellopoulou Street and Dymaion Coast, with a total length of more than 5 km) and its connection to the port of the city (section Aghios Dionysios-Aghios Andreas).

Mr. Karamanlis announced the new approach for the train, aiming to satisfy the local community, releasing at least 17 acres of public space on the surface within the dense urban sprawl, while ensuring, at the same time, the good operation of the Suburban Railway and mainting the connection to Pyrgos. As he said the relevant tender is due to start in the second half of 2021 for a project worth in total 514m euros. When completed, travel time between Athens and Patras will be reduced to just 1 hour and 40 minutes.

The proposal of the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport is of great interest in the region, since the issue of the construction of the train  line has been present for more than 15 years.

The Minister of Infrastructure and Transport also spoke about Patras-Pyrgos Motorway, for which he promised swift developments in order to upgrade the existing, obsolete axis that is extremely dangerous for its users.

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CRRC successfully tests 600km/h maglev train

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China successfully completed low-speed dynamic testing of a 600km/h prototype maglev car developed by CRRC Sifang on a test line at Tongji University in Shanghai on June 21, a milestone for the project lunched in June 2016.

CRRC is developing the train alongside more than 30 companies, universities, and research institutes. The train has been identified as a key development under the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Advanced Rail Transit research and development plan.

The trial was undertaken following static testing and debugging, and included dynamic operating environments such as switches, curves and ramps. This allowed the testing of key components such as suspension guidance, speed and position measurement, the vehicle-rail interface, traction, and the communication systems.

Mr Ding Sansan, deputy chief engineer of CRRC Sifang and head of the maglev project, says the development of the maglev train requires four different elements, including the vehicle, power supply, communications systems and track. The tests allowed simultaneous testing of each element, with a large amount of data collected that will feed into further research.

“Under the test conditions of multiple scenarios, the suspension guidance of the vehicle is stable, and the operating condition is good,” Ding says. “The key technical indicators meet the design requirements and the design expectations.”

Five test cars are currently under development, with a full prototype capable of 600km/h operation expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Last year, China announced plans for a 200km maglev line in Hubei province to test operation of the prototype train at speeds in excess of 600km/h.

 

Source: railjournal.com

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Tram extension to Piraeus to operate in late 2020

Νίκος Καραγιάννης

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The operation of the Tramway extension to Piraeus is moved towards the end of 2020, as the works for the relocation of the Tram line in the area of ​​Faliro Bay will have to be completed first, as well as the rest of the project.

It is also reminded that Batis-SEF section, has been out of order since March 16, 2020, based on the planning of Attica Region, in the context of Faliro Bay Restoration project.

According to information, while initially the project provided for 45 days of construction works and an additional 15 days of testing, due to Covid-19 pandemic, these procedures were delayed.

Now, should there be no more delays, the new goal is for the projects to be completed with the reattachement of the lines on both sides, allowing the restoration of commercial operation, by the beginning of September. It is noted that the projects include the demolition of “Tzitzifies” and “Kallithea” stops and their reconstruction at a new location.

The building that stands in the way for the extension’s operation

The big demand from the above projects is the start of the commercial operation of the first large extension of the Tram from Faliro to Piraeus. The project has been completed and last February STASY S.A. was just a step away from receiving the new section from Attiko Metro.

Then, a fire at an adjacent conservation building, obstructed the delivery of the extension, as the use of the line was banned by the police, “trapping the project in the greek bureauratic procedures.

An autopsy was performed by the Ministry of Culture, deciding that the building could be demolished, apart from its facade. However, this requires a detailed demolition study by the Municipality of Piraeus.

At this point in time, Attiko Metro expects from the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality to address any interventions needed in order to remove the traffic ban and allow the completion of the remaining works that concern the installation of telematics and a substation.

Extension to operate towards the end of the year

Based on the above and having in mind the best prospects, the delivery of the 5.4 km long single-track line for the extension of the Tram to Piraeus, with 11 stops is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

At that point, the first lot of the “new generation” tramsets are expected to be delivered by Alstom, making the service of the line extension possible and reinforcing the existing fleet, which is now considered “missing”. A total of 25 tramsets will be received.

It is reminded that the project started in early 2013 with a completion schedule of 25 months. If it finally operates at the end of 2020 it will have completed 94 months (!), i.e. almost four times the period that was originally calculated.

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