Intermodal transport control systems (ITCS) make a significant contribution to the performance of the transport system, helping to maintain and improve the quality of service experienced by the passengers.
The most important ITCS functions are:
- the control of communications and the transmission of information between the vehicle and the control centre,
- computerised vehicle operations (e.g. acceleration by switching light signals; ensuring smooth connections; preventing or limiting external disruptions to service through stoppages, congestion or temporary construction sites; minimising the impacts of unavoidable deviations from the timetable),
- and the provision of up-to-date passenger information in trains, in buses, at stations, to mobile devices and on the internet.
- ITCS organises all aspects of communications between the control centre and the vehicles.
In many cases analogue operating and trunked radio systems are still in use, but there is also a growing move towards digital systems (e.g. TETRA, Tetrapol) and public wireless communication systems (Global System for Mobile Communications - GSM).
However, another key aspect of ITCS, location tracking of vehicles in the network, is primarily done using radio data transmission – logical localisation on a defined route or physical localisation using a public positioning system such as GPS (Global Positioning System), radio beacons (infrared or inductive) or a combination of both.
This provides the dispatchers at the control centre with fast, accurate, relevant information on the current operating conditions on different transit lines, allowing them to ensure smooth connections using measures including the implementation of computerised solutions across transport operations.
The vehicles have positioning systems, driver terminals, on-board computers, controls e.g. for light signal systems, passenger information displays and public address systems, ticket stamping machines, machines for selling and printing tickets, and even terminals for electronic payment and fare management systems – automatized control of these numerous devices makes the jobs of on-board personnel much easier.
The data collected and stored by the ITCS not only help operations to run better and more smoothly, but can also be used for long-term analyses, e.g. periodic optimisation of timetables using mathematical and statistical methodologies; rationalisation of transport-related responsibilities; and statistical analysis for financial controlling, quality management, etc. And, perhaps most importantly for passengers, it offers real-time travel information.