HS2: preparing for the future
It was announced earlier this month the high-speed rail line, High Speed 2 (HS2), has been given the final green light by the government, with engineering work to ramp up in the coming weeks. The HS2 line involves 345 miles of new high-speed track connecting the city centres of London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds; promising to reduce overcrowding, speed up journeys, offer enhanced infrastructure and increase job opportunities.
With HS2 predicted to carry 100 million passengers a year when completed in 2040, it raises the question of how local authorities will manage the increase in commuters travelling to the stations. All stations, acting as hub for modal change must have the space and facilities for all modes of transport - walking, cycling, bus, ride as a service, and the car. Particularly stations which are not located in the centre of towns and cities, where passengers are more likely to travel to the station by private vehicles.
As the number of commuters rises, will we see the development of the infrastructure needed to accommodate them grow at the same rate?
Preparing for the future
If HS2 wants to be a global beacon of transport excellence, provision should be made for elements such as VIP business travel and 5G for autonomous pods to happily move around. Heathrow Airport has already deployed a fleet of self-driving electric pods to transport people from the terminals to the business car park. You tell the system where you want to go using touchscreens at the station. Similarly, in Germany, state-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn is testing self-driving pods that will link railway stations and town centres.
With autonomous pods predicted to be rolled out between town centres and railway stations in the future to reduce emissions and increase efficiency, the infrastructure at HS2 stations need to support this with suitable infrastructure.
With an influx of commuters travelling to the new HS2 stations, digital parking facilities will be needed to manage the station parking and ensure a seamless experience for customers. Consumers have embraced the convenience and security of cashless transactions, driven by advances in contactless and mobile payment technology. In fact, figures from UK Finance suggest cash payments will represent just 16 percent of all transactions by 2027.
A mobile app or text-based cashless parking option eliminates any parking frustration as, with a few clicks, drivers can pay the exact amount needed. Customers can also receive SMS alerts when their parking approaches expiry, check the time left on the meter and extend their stay via the app – all without having to return to their vehicle. This reduces the risk of drivers incurring penalty charge notices through overstaying and contributes to a generally stress-free experience.
Digital platforms, such as Chipside’s MiPermit, enables drivers to conveniently pay for parking via mobile phone. The app shows users their vehicle, location, start and end of stay, amount paid and a countdown timer. Receipts may be downloaded if needed and drivers can also pre-book parking for planned visits, cancelling this at the click of a button if necessary.
Digital parking is not a new phenomenon but is essential for HS2 stations to improve both the experience for the driver and help to lower emissions, whether that be saving time people driving around looking for parking spots or introducing incentives for low-emission vehicles.