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2/21/2011 - Solar Power Customer Information Systems for Stations in the North

 SOLAR powered screens with customer information are to be installed at seven ScotRail stations – all in the Highlands.

No matter the weather, they will continue to operate in cold – and even cloudy – days. The screens, which have been developed by Nexus Alpha Low Power Systems Ltd (NALPS) will be installed by the train operator, with support from the Technology Strategy Board and HITRANS - the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership.
They will be introduced at Alness, Beauly, Golspie, Invergordon, Lairg, Muir of Ord, and Tain stations.

The screens will not only provide train running information but have an automated speech facility for the visually impaired. By pressing a button, customers will be told verbally what is being displayed on the screen. At some sites the displays will also be fitted with the RNIB’s
React system which allows visually impaired passengers to trigger the system using a small personal radio fob.

In addition, solar powered displays – featuring information about connecting buses - will be provided outside the railway stations in Aviemore, Forres and Thurso.

The installation programme is due to commence at the end of March.

Even during prolonged, overcast days it is expected that there will be sufficient power to display the information – thanks to the ultra low power display technology and the combination of solar power and large batteries storing excess summer energy to support the
systems in leaner winter months.

With customer information sent to the screens via a mobile data service, there is no need for cabling to the screens - either for power or data transmission.

The green innovation is part of ScotRail’s comprehensive climate change strategy aimed at reducing its carbon footprint and benefits from funding by the government-backed Technology Strategy Board. Stewart Cahill, ScotRail’s Environmental Improvement Manager, stressed that other locations will be looked at for future solar customer information screens.

He added: “We have set ourselves tough targets on the environment and the solar powered screens are yet another demonstration of our commitment to sustainability.” The introduction
of React to trigger service information is an illustration of the commitment of both FSR and HITRANS to improving support for disabled travellers.

Cllr Duncan MacIntyre, Chair of HITRANS, who have secured the signs for installation at Stations in their area, said: “HITRANS are really pleased to see this innovative solution to rural transport information installed in the Highlands. These signs are a fine example of the role renewable energy can play in the north of Scotland and we are delighted to have played a part in this exciting project.”

The systems will be provided by Nexus Alpha Low Power Systems (NALPS), a UK leader in low power system provision to the public transport sector. The research and development of the latest generation of NALPS solar powered screens has been part-funded by a grant received from the Technology Strategy Board and with additional funding from HITRANS. The scheme is part of a Technology Strategy Board project that also includes JMW Ltd.

Media enquiries:
Iain Wilson, First ScotRail: 0141 335 4565
Out of hours - 07738 141 198

Notes to Editors
The world’s leading transport provider, FirstGroup plc, unveiled its climate change strategy in June 2007. It outlines ambitious targets to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions it generates by up to 25 per cent throughout its UK rail and bus operations, including buildings.
The strategy ranges from recycling to improving fuel efficiency and seeking alternative fuels.

HITRANS is the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership, tasked with pursuing improvements to the strategic transport services and infrastructure network.
As a statutory body, its remit covers all forms of public transport in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland including rail, ferry, road transport, air travel, cycling and walking.

The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led government body which works to create economic growth by ensuring that the UK is a global leader in innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit

Nexus Alpha Low Power Systems
Nexus Alpha Low Power Systems (NALPS) supplies technology that can help businesses reduce both their power consumption and environmental impact. Our products have been designed from the outset to minimise power demand without sacrificing capability and quality. The computers we have developed (HERMES and HERMES Lite) demand so little power they can operate 24/7 from locally generated renewable energy – typically using solar panels.
With mains power provision no longer a constraint, NALPS can provide the flexibility to gather, transmit and present information where this was either not previous possible or not commercially viable.

JLM Consulting
JLM Consulting are a company with particular expertise in transport policy particularly relating to ITS and with in depth knowledge of European Union policy making and funding opportunities. Jenny Milne of JLM Consulting identified the opportunity presented by the
Technology Strategy Board to support the development of products that she knew through her contacts in the ITS field that Nexus Alpha and JMW were interested in developing from concept to production. The development of the original proposal was completed by the
involvement of HITRANS and Moray Council who were identified as ideal public sector partners for the project by JLM Consulting.
For further information please either email or contact Jenny Milne on 07833460907

Technical Notes

The displays are a development by Nexus Alpha Low Power Systems (NALPS) and represent the result of years of investment by NALPS in display technology that is sufficiently low power to be supported by reasonable sized solar panels. The displays for ScotRail introduce some novel innovations: the introduction of ‘flip-dot’ technology using solar power and the first application of a novel power unit optimised for solar powered systems which is designed to
ensure maximum benefit from the solar array and the least energy waste. The systems are based around the company’s HERMES Lite computer: a sophisticated device that runs on a meagre half a Watt of power – around a twentieth of the power demand of even a small
Netbook computer!

The signs obtain their train information from ScotRail’s Station Customer Information System which is provided by ATOS Origin Ltd. The data is fed to the signs over GPRS – the data handling protocol within mobile phones. The signs format this data both for display and for audio output – the latter using reconstructed natural speech. In addition messages can be sent from ScotRail’s Customer Service Centre to advise customers of route disruption or other information. These messages can also be voiced.
The display technology is part of a range of low power hardware designed by NALPS – saving power and using solar where possible is a key part of the company’s philosophy, as is supporting their clients in delivering systems that help their transport customers comply with the requirements of the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act).
For further information please either email or contact
Julian Coleman (NALPS’ COO) on 07714 125311.

React is an RNIB product.

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