The National Roads Authority in the Republic of Ireland (NRA), together with their colleagues from the Department for Regional Development's Road Service (RS) in Northern Ireland are examining, with financial assistance from the European Union, the potential for providing Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) on the Dublin-Belfast corridor. The project acronym is INSTANT.
The project has now completed its Feasibility and Design Stage, and addressed six main issues:
- Technical feasibility,
- System Costs,
- Assessment of potential impacts,
- System Finance,
- Implementation aspects,
- Preparation for a Design Study.
The main objectives of the project are:
- To assist in the economic development of both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland;
- To assist in the exchange of goods and services between both parts of Ireland and also between Ireland, Great Britain and Continental Europe;
- To enable freight operators make informed choices on travel routes;
- To enable passenger traffic make informed choices on travel mode and route;
- To increase traffic safety on the route;
- To reduce the negative impact of incidents on the routes on overall transport efficiency.
INSTANT is multimodal in its outlook, considering both rail and road travel. It will also seek to identify appropriate network management tools to the NRA and RS for the existing and planned road infrastructure between Dublin and Belfast.
The needs of public transport, commercial interests and the private motorist will be considered, and this will require investigation into the need for coordination between the traffic and travel management centres in each city. Other investigations will consider how travel information from airports, ports and ferry operators can be interfaced with the project, and also the links to other sources of traffic and travel information in Great Britain and mainland Europe.
INSTANT is not just about identifying an immediate shopping list of the best technology and travel information to smooth traffic, ease connections, and satisfy user needs. It is also looking at a sustainable strategy to put in place viable options that complement other investment and implementation programmes. What may be recommended for the INSTANT corridor could, if required, be extended to other routes throughout the island or Ireland.
The project is based on a multimodal traffic management and information system for cross-border traffic between Dublin and Belfast.
The project will examine three principal components:
- A pre-trip planning tool,
- Creation and dissemination of real-time traveller information,
- Traffic control and management.
The Feasibility Study phase commenced in August 2001 and was completed in June 2002. The study examined the following issues:
- Technical Feasibility,
- System Costs,
- Impact Assessment,
- System Finance,
The Design stage commenced in August 2002 and was completed in November 2003. The Design Stage delivered five work packages:
- A detailed implementation plan for 3 local 'quick-hit' locations;
- A travel information web portal;
- A pilot data exchange between Belfast and Dublin traffic control centres;
- Feasibility study for travel advisory information via radio;
- Development of a corridor-length 10-year implementation plan.
The project's main deliverable was to develop a 10-Year Implementation Plan for the deployment of ITS infrastructure on the Belfast to Dublin corridor. This plan included an estimation of costs both for the infrastructure and for the control systems, and split the deployment into Short (0-3 years), Medium (4-6 years) and Long (7-10 years)-term stages.
The Implementation Plan produced was successfully presented to the Special EU Programmes Body for INTERREG IIIA funding in 2004, that resulted in the commencement of the Short-Term deployment plan for 2004-2006.
The work undertaken in the INSTANT Feasibility and Design Study provides an appropriate template for similar studies and potential deployments on other corridors in Ireland.