The singer Chris Rea enjoyed a seasonal hit in 1988 with “Driving home for Christmas” but his hit album the following year, “The Road to Hell”, painted a more accurate picture of travel at Christmas.
Fortunately, 50 years of advances in transport operations and information technology have transformed the experiences of millions of passengers and Thales in the UK, through its wide-ranging products and services, has made great advances towards reducing crowded trains, congested roads and unreliable services.
Travellers usually take that technology for granted, but over the next few weeks more than five million passengers are expected to fly in and out of the UK and transport networks will be packed. So how will Thales help get you home for Christmas?
Planning your journey
The first step in any journey is planning and the National Rail Enquiries service is a good starting point for accurate mainline rail information, managing more than 3 million enquiries every day. Thales in the UK is the data source behind Darwin, the real-time information processing source that drives it.
Now you need to book a flight. Buying a ticket in advance, using your mobile or chip-and-pin technology, has never been safer because Thales’s Security business delivers secure solutions to global banks and payment organisations that provide end-to-end transaction protection, shielding customer account details.
Travel information on the move
You’re now driving to the nearest railway station but you hear on the radio that the route is blocked. Fortunately, updateable overhead signs show that a diversion has been set up, so the traffic keeps flowing.
Thales in the UK drives Traffic England, a real-time information service from Highways England, giving drivers up-to-the minute information on incidents, congestion and roadworks through a variety of media.
Increasing rail safety
You’ve made your train connection so you can relax because Thales’s Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS), fitted to 80% of Britain’s trains, is in place to ensure the safe running of the network.
Thales’s ARAMIS Traffic Management System is already operational on mainline rail networks in more than ten countries across Europe and Asia, allowing quicker recovery from disruption thus reducing delays limiting any disruption on your journey to the airport.
Arriving in London, you must cross the city. Fortunately, Thales signalling systems have boosted London’s Underground Railway capacity through the programme to upgrade the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. The network’s busiest lines will soon benefit from 33% more trains every hour.
Security and electronic boarding passes
Now you’re at the airport, you avoid long check-in queues because you’ve already downloaded an e-boarding pass onto your mobile. You can also feel secure knowing that your pass is protected by a digital signature developed by Thales’s Security business. No unauthorised passenger can counterfeit a pass to board your flight.
Safety and comfort in the air
You’re almost home; you settle into your seat on an A380 airbus and watch a safety video before enjoying the latest blockbuster films. You even ring your family mid-flight and tell them when to expect you. You are now one of 130,000 passengers across more than 70 airlines experiencing Thales’s inflight entertainment systems today.
Thales is also ensuring that your flight and landing are controlled by the most advanced air traffic management software and equipment. Covering 40% of the world’s airspace, two in every three airplanes around the world take off and land using Thales equipment.
Arriving home safe in time for Christmas
Like millions of others, you’ve reached your destination safely and on time to meet your loved ones, without even realising how many times your journey has been touched by one of the world’s leading technology providers - Thales.