Lighting controls and a tour of the railways

Lighting controls and a tour of the railways

Lighting controls and a tour of the railways

This week Open Technology announced that they will be installing intelligent lighting controls at the UK’s busiest train station, Clapham Junction, in addition to the 25 stations that have already been transformed across the South West. The BBC thought this was as exciting as we did and asked to film a piece at Southampton Station where the controls are already installed.

I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun so jumped on a train to join in.

I started my journey by stepping out of our office into Paddington station, to admire the relatively successful use of natural daylight in station lighting. I then beeped my way through the tube barriers, thinking that this was a great transport example of a smart, integrated system. I then however beeped my way straight back out again as the Bakerloo line had just been closed. Luckily the London tube is one system with useful redundancy built in and so I was soon on a train out of Waterloo.

After passing at high speed through the soon to be transformed Clapham Junction we stopped at Watford. Remembering our work on the Open Technology brochure I realised this was my first stop at a LiGO installed station. It was still a bright sunny afternoon and the station lights were quite correctly off. Next up Winchester and yes once again, no unnecessary lighting use.


Woking Station: It’s daylight and the lights are off (the lights on my train are however, annoyingly, on)

Winchester Station: Sunlight streaming in and lights definitely off.

Southampton Station: Still daylight, and no unnecessary lights here.

At Southampton station (where yes the lights were still off) I met the one and only Paul Clifton, BBC travel correspondent, and his cameraman Ian. Ian was busy fixing up the first time-lapse camera that would show the lights in action over the evening.

We met up with Keith and Amy from the South West Trains, Network Rail Alliance who have been instrumental in the lighting controls project. While things got set up for the first interview Chris showed me the controls. Their Ligo system means you can log into the control panel from any web browser so Open Technology, the train station staff and maintenance contractors can all review and control the system from anywhere (a point that was key in Network Rail’s decision to work with Open Technology as no other provider can offer this).

Setting up for the time-lapse video

Chris in control!

Open Technology’s Ligo system: The magic box controlling it all!

It is childishly fun to be able to stand on a station platform and turn the lights on and off at will. But don’t worry health and safety people we were doing this in daylight when they didn’t need to be on anyway. With a sneaky look in the electrical controls room I even got to see the magic box that makes it all work.

Interview: Chris Bedford, Managing Director, Open Technology

Interview: Amy Dickinson, Environment Manager, South West Trains, Network Rail Alliance

And just like that at 19.36 the sun got low and the lights came on. Chris’s system showed that they were at 30% of maximum, enough light to safely and effectively light the platform surface without wastage. As the evening darkened they would increase to 50%. But for this Platform they would never need to go any higher. The control system was even saving energy when the lights were on!

The sun has set and the lights come up

Woking station: On the way home and it’s dark, and the lights are on (thank goodness!)

And on the way home sure enough, in Winchester and Woking the lights were on just as they should be.

And here is the piece from the BBC: