In the rail sector, signalling corresponds to all information systems in operation along the tracks, in cabins or at stations, designed to provide operators and users alike information to facilitate their journey. Signalling directly benefits from all innovations related to information technology and communication, resulting in better support for operators in the management of the network and consequently improved quality of service and enhanced user experience.
While travellers are now at the centre of advanced rail services, operators seek to utilise innovations in signalling to provide services that are better suited to their changing needs and behaviours. For this, they deploy advanced technologies at several levels: upstream, firstly, for ticketing services, with the use of technologies or applications to improve existing services, but also the development of new payment solutions such as NFC (Near Field Communication); by allowing users to pay for and validate transport tickets using advanced means such as no-contact bank card or mobile devices (smartphone, laptop, tablet); NFC currently simplifies and streamlines ticket purchase and validation, and data transmission. The SNCF plans to implement smartphone-incorporated NFC tickets in seven regions from January 2014.
Signalling also benefits from the development of means of communication that provide a higher quality of instantaneous information transfer, informing agents and travellers of traffic conditions reliably and in real time. This development not only helps the operator to optimise day-to-day management of traffic across the network, it also supplies travellers with useful information (facilitating their journey). Many projects have been implemented in this way, both across the network to improve connectivity in transport – 4G should cover the entire Parisian RATP network by 2015 – but also through the development of dedicated applications that allow direct access to information and so facilitate the travel experience before and during the journey. This is the case in the OUIGO project for example, under which ALTEN worked for the development of several key elements on the iDTGV app developer site: the development of a virtual ticket using the M-ticket QR code, a ticket reservations facility using the application, the creation of incident notification on the train boarded, etc.
ALTEN consequently supports the development and integration of systems and technologies related to signalling, responding both to emerging issues of simplicity, immediacy and connectivity for its clients, and also to the increasing need for service personalisation felt by end users. To do this, ALTEN works alongside rail sector stakeholders, operators and equipment manufacturers alike, on projects related to engineering as well as Networks and Telecommunications, and the development of dedicated web applications.
With a widespread presence, ALTEN collaborates on all of these projects, both in the deployment of new system solutions, their testing and validation, and also on project monitoring (piloting, tracking of subcontractors, etc).