Smart Transport

West Midlands trials 5G connected tram

West Midlands 5G (WM5G) has developed a 5G-connected tram as part of a regional transport trial.

With the 5G-connected tram, high-definition CCTV footage captured on the tram can be remotely transferred to the Regional Traffic Control Centre, while in operation, which could increase passenger safety, says WM5G.

The on-board connectivity could also provide passengers with live travel updates and the ability to stream on-board entertainment.

Real-time information such as passenger numbers, could help operators establish capacity, minimise crowding in stations and onboard services, said the company.

Chris Holmes, programme director of transport at WM5G, said: “This project is a great demonstrator of how 5G can transform the way that public transport services are delivered.

“Our 5G-connected tram is a great showcase for what the future of connected transport could look like across both the West Midlands and beyond.”

If deployed across the network, 5G-connected trams could also utilise on-board sensors to help engineers remotely identify issues in carriages and across infrastructure, predicting and responding to faults before they occur.

The trial is in partnership with West Midlands Metro, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), GoMedia and Icomera.

Sophie Allison, head of business transformation at West Midlands Metro, said: “It is our shared ambition to utilise new technologies to improve services for passengers across the region. This collaboration has enabled us to use the advances in 5G technology to monitor the tram network in real-time.

“We now have the proven ability to transmit CCTV footage to our Operational Control Centre and the Regional Traffic Control Centre quickly, reliably and securely – helping to improve passenger safety. We are pleased to be pioneers on this project, which has helped to demonstrate the future potential that 5G can offer.”

Matt Warman, digital infrastructure Minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: "The birthplace of the industrial revolution is now at the forefront of the digital revolution with 5G being used to improve efficiency and passenger safety on the West Midlands Metro.

"We have invested £200 million to explore how 5G can be the rocket fuel industries need to build back better and this is just one of a long list of projects to make the most of this ultrafast mobile technology.”

Seven further transport trials across the region are currently underway, with WM5G investing £2.4 million in seven UK-based consortiums to support the development of new products and services to help improve road and rail operational efficiency, connected transport, or passenger experiences.

The projects are scheduled to run until the end of 2021.

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