The transport secretary has launched the West Midlands’ Regional Transport Coordination Centre (RTCC), which will bring real-time information across all modes of transport together into one place.
For the first time, there will be a single real-time hub for the West Midlands transport authorities and agencies, emergency services and bus, rail and tram operators to manage the network during major events and incidents.
With the RTCC up and running, the region is gearing up to manage the tens of thousands of visitors hitting the network during Coventry City of Culture in 2021 and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The RTCC is part of a £22m project to improve co-ordination across public transport and road networks and manage congestion in the region and was delivered with support from the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund.
Mr Shapps with TfWM director of network resilence Anne Shaw
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which manages the RTCC, said it is working with existing control centres around the region to provide up to the minute journey information for residents, businesses and visitors.
Giant screens and CCTV links relay information to staff who can then co-ordinate action on the ground, such as re-phasing traffic lights, organising additional buses with operators to support emergencies, and provide information via social media and mobile apps.
Transport secretary Mr Shapps said: 'With the eyes of the world turning to Birmingham in 2022, it is essential that we have a reliable, green transport network in place which allows the Midlands to realise its huge potential.’
West Midlands mayor Andy Street said: 'It is fantastic to see the RTCC up and running and already helping to tackle congestion on our roads and public transport networks.
'It means more accurate travel information and better alternative options for anyone who lives, works or visits the region as well as better journey times and less time spent sat in traffic.'
Through the RTCC, TfWM is working with Highways England, Network Rail, local councils, the emergency services, HS2 and rail and bus companies.
Diversions and planning around major road and infrastructure works, such as the regeneration of Perry Barr or construction of Metro tram extensions, will be supported.
Investment in the RTCC delivered:
- Upgrading of traffic lights and CCTV and connecting them to the RTCC
- Installation of new technology to traffic signals, making them more efficient in managing the flow of traffic
- Fit-out of a state-of-the-art RTCC at TfWM’s offices in central Birmingham
- Work with local authority partners to improve roads, junctions and road safety in the Black Country, Solihull, Birmingham and Coventry
- Monitoring of average journey times and enabling real-time data alerts as congestion builds.
Further work by TfWM and its partners will now begin to improve the monitoring capability of the RTCC such as upgrading traffic signals and replacing road sensors at congestion hot spots.
The centre will continually store the data it gathers and will be used by all its partners to plan future transport projects.