SWARCO signs play key role in new ‘real time’ fuel price trial
Sophisticated electronic variable message signs (VMS) from SWARCO Traffic Ltd are playing a critical part in a new high-profile trial to provide drivers with ‘real time’ fuel prices along a stretch of the M5 motorway between Bristol and Exeter.
The signs, manufactured to order in less than three months, are designed for maximum legibility for motorists (each character is 420mm in height) to meet the exacting standards laid down by Highways England and the relevant EU legislation.
They integrate with a bespoke system that monitors pump prices and enable the displayed prices to be updated within one minute of any change at the pumps. They also integrate with a second independent database to ensure the prices are verified on a daily basis.
SWARCO’s sign control system is hosted in a datacentre for maximum reliability and availability; communication with the signs is via a secure VPN to ensure the prices cannot be tampered with.
Carl Dyer of SWARCO Traffic says that a key feature of the trial is the close co-operation between the lead consultant (WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff), Highways England, the contractor, and the various technology partners: “Since the award of the contract in December 2015, all parties have worked closely to have the trial up and running in record time,” he says.
“Our proposed solution for this project was seen as robust and the decision to choose SWARCO therefore reflects on both the quality of our product and the genuine desire by Highways England to partner with the best providers for each element of the trial.”
The trial will provide fuel price information from Gordano, Sedgemoor, Bridgwater, Taunton Deane and Exeter motorway service areas. It will run until October 2017 during which time Highways England monitoring will determine whether increasing the transparency of fuel prices at motorway service areas has an impact on driver behaviour, including the number of stops made at service areas, the number of fatigue and fuel related incidents, and on fuel pricing.