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New technology put under the spotlight by heads of safety

19 May 2023

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Light rail safety professionals have been given an insightful demonstration of an innovative system that combines obstacle detection with overspeed monitoring and collision avoidance technology.

At a recent meeting in Blackpool, members of the sector’s Heads of Safety Group were given the chance to witness Alstom’s Collision and Overspeed Monitoring and Prevention Assistance System (COMPAS) in operation.

Currently being tested on trams in the town, COMPAS builds on Alstom’s existing Obstacle Detection Assistance System (ODAS) and enables the tram driver to utilise digital track data and visual odometry to operate the tram in pre-defined speed limits. Accordingly, the system improves the safety of passengers, as well as of pedestrians and other people around the running vehicle.

It is one of several options available to operators looking to embrace new technology to enhance tramway safety, and the demonstration enabled members of the group, which is led by the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board (LRSSB), to take a closer look of the Alstom solution.

Mark Ashmore, LRSSB Head of Safety and Assurance, commented: “We would like to thank Blackpool Transport and Alstom for showing us the system in action, and it was certainly impressive.

“The trials in Blackpool, alongside tests of similar systems on other networks in the UK and beyond, illustrate the commitment of UK operators to remain world leaders in light rail safety.”

Alongside the COMPAS demonstration, the group also visited Blackpool’s Fleetwood Road pedestrian crossing, redesigned after a fatal accident in 2021.

The meeting also saw updates from the LRSSB on its enhanced Tram Accident and Incident Reporting system (TAIR) and discussions on themes for a Sector Safety Management Plan that’s currently in development. Other presentations on the day included one by the LRSSB’s Data Analyst, Mo Hefny, who outlined the findings of a recent survey to gather feedback on planned safety risk model dashboards.

Mark added: “This was another very productive meeting that also saw discussions on drones, security, driver licensing and tackling anti-social behaviour.

“Once again the Heads of Safety Group provided an ideal platform for colleagues from across the sector to get together and work in collaboration on a range of topics, while sharing ideas and best practice.”

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