Severn Bridge

Severn BridgeWhen Severn River Crossing Plc, the company that operates both the toll bridges across the River Severn, needed new electronic signage to direct vehicles to the appropriate toll booths, it turned to LED Synergy to develop and deliver the robust and cost effective solution.

A total of 22 full colour units, each comprising a 192x48 matrix of LEDs were specified and supplied, along with separate control systems, one for each bridge. The whole LED solution also interfaces with the existing toll booth system.

Each LED module was pre fabricated to slot into the display housing and then supplied to Severn River Crossing, which undertook the installation itself, in consultation with LED Synergy. A rolling programme was implemented, whereby up to three booths at a time were revamped during the quieter periods in the week to ensure the project caused least disruption. The whole programme was completed and the solution fully commissioned by the start of 2012.

“This is a perfect example of where our robust LED solutions are both ideally suited to the application and deliver maximum effectiveness,” explained Jeremy Harwood at LED Synergy. “Other key factors in us being awarded the contract included that we clearly demonstrated that we not only totally understood the requirement, but would also be flexible on supply and were competitively priced. Each LED module is guaranteed for a minimum of three years but in practice they should all continue to function without problem for many years to come or at least until the target total income for the toll system is due to reached, which is currently expected to be some time in 2018.”

Each year somewhere around 12 million individual vehicles pass through the toll booths on both the old two lane and new three lane bridges going westbound – which equates to an average approaching 35,000 a day – and a similar number return in the other direction.

“It is important that we optimise the flow of all traffic through the toll booths and so cause the least amount of disruption to people’s journeys,” explained Jim Clune, general manager of Severn River Crossings. “The new signs mean we can prioritise which vehicles go to particular booths which mean that during peak periods or on particular days we can quickly adapt our lane control to accommodate changing demand.”

Car drivers are currently charged £6 to cross intoWalesper journey while HGVs weighing more than 3.5 tonnes incurs a toll of £18.10. The tolls rise by inflation each year and were set by a law passed over 20 years ago so that the original construction and ongoing operational costs would be recouped to an agreed amount. However traffic on the busiest section of the M4 nearNewportbegan to decline in 2005 due to the general economic downturn, rising fuel prices and more freight being moved by rail. In the last three years around 15% fewer heavy goods vehicles and approaching 10% fewer cars have used the bridges. Late 2016 was originally forecast as the date when the toll target would be reached but a recent announcement put back that date, which is now expected to be early to mid-2018.

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