Winter goes high-tech: National Traffic Control Centre Improves Co-ordination
Road users in Scotland can look forward to a more co-ordinated response to the Winter weather this year, thanks to the National Traffic Scotland Control Centre in South Queensferry.
Transport Minister Keith Brown has been touring the state of the art facility today (October 7 2013) to see the preparations that have been made for the months ahead. He also had the opportunity to see some of the new plant, including gritters and spreaders, that will be used to keep Scotland moving over the next few months.
The centre will result in improved working with Police Scotland, the road operating companies and the Met Office, who will now have a dedicated member of staff based there.
This year, the latest technology is being used to make sure that the most reliable and accurate information is given to those managing the treatment of the roads as well as to the traveling public.
Weather stations are now located across the country and mobile sensors are fitted to operational vehicles to feedback data on road temperatures and conditions. This will be used by the road operating companies to decide when routes need treated. The information will also available to the public on the Traffic Scotland website, meaning that drivers will have the latest information available to help them plan their journeys.
Traffic Scotland is also introducing further improvements to its service and will continue to provide the most reliable real-time information on the trunk roads. Last year the number of users across all of their digital platforms increased and the twitter feed @trafficscotland now has more than 35,000 followers. This Winter, Traffic Scotland is joining with Transport Scotland as well as BEAR Scotland, Scotland TranServ and our other partners to use #keepscotmove on Twitter so that road users can see some of the efforts that are being made to help them get around.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “Last Winter, the Met Office issued 169 severe weather warnings for Scotland and that gives an indication of some of the challenges that we could face during the next few months.
“Our trunk roads play a vital part in our daily lives and that doesn’t change with the seasons so Transport Scotland and our road operating companies do everything we can to keep the country moving, even during the most testing of conditions.
“Our new national control centre means that our response to major incidents like severe storms will be better coordinated under one roof with experts from all across the transport network working alongside each other. I am pleased that we now have a dedicated member of staff from the Met Office in place and that will mean that the flow of information between our organisations gets even better.
“We have made all of the preparations necessary to ensure that our decision making, winter treatments and communications improve again this year.
“Salt stocks have been maintained and we have more supplies of specialist de-icers that work in even lower temperatures. Almost two hundred vehicles are available for spreading salt and ploughing our trunk roads. There are also additional frontline and patrol vehicles.
“In terms of communications, we are making use of all available technologies to let people know exactly what is going on. Our weather stations make sure that the live information from Traffic Scotland is as accurate and timely as possible and the increase in our use of digital communications and social media is allowing travellers to make informed decisions about their route and cutting congestion as a result.”
The Met Office’s Director of Government Business, Phil Evans said: "We’re pleased to develop our close working relationship with Transport Scotland by providing an advisor to work within its control room during this winter period. By continuing to pool our expertise we can ensure that the Scottish public are well informed and able to prepare for any severe weather that may occur over the winter months.
“Members of the public can also prepare by checking the weather forecast on our website - www.metoffice.gov.uk before setting off on any journeys."
Russell Rennie, contract director, Scotland TranServ commented: “We have been preparing for winter since commencement of the 4G contract on 1 April 2013. Having invested over £3m in winter plant alone we are now operating the latest in gritting technology in south west Scotland.
“Our fleet consists of 48 vehicles which includes 30 brand new gritters. We’ve also invested in 14 ‘supergritters’ which can spread double the amount of salt across our 22 routes therefore reducing the need for re application and in turn our carbon footprint.
“Working on behalf of our client, Transport Scotland, our aim is to keep south west Scotland moving. Scotland TranServ has a strong focus on continuous improvement and it is through this commitment to developing our technology, fleet and community relations that we will ensure safer and quicker journeys during winter weather.”
BEAR Scotland maintains over 2,900km of trunk roads based throughout the North East, South East and North West of Scotland and has 26 operational depots.
Brian Gordon, BEAR Scotland’s Managing Director, said: “We have over 300 operatives trained and ready to deal with winter across the 2,900km of trunk roads that we maintain.
“We have over 140 vehicles involved in carrying out precautionary treatments, patrols, and snow clearance across our network. Our winter control room monitors road conditions on a 24/7 basis meaning we can act quickly to changing winter weather conditions. Our top priority is to keep the roads safe for road users.
“Of course, we ask that motorists must also play their part by being fully prepared for winter too. This includes ensuring their vehicle is well maintained, that they pay close attention to local and national media and information websites to help plan journeys during inclement weather and that they carry equipment to help themselves should conditions deteriorate.”