Those who re-tuned Keleti Railway Station
A company is rarely compelled to the change of ownership or name unless these are accompanied by a change of profile. Why was it still necessary in the case of Pro Montel Plc.?
– In the years just after the political transition, the Company Registry was not specifically on top of things: compared to our foundation in 1991, another Montel Ltd. was registered within three days, however, this only came to light five years later. Making distinction was inevitable, but as an additional last name was not approved by the office, we loaned the prefix of the term ’Pro Libertate’ and the company’s name became Pro Montel Plc. From the very beginning, the company that is 51 per cent owned by Hungarians, has worked in the field of telecommunications, remote control and safety equipment, both on the design and implementation levels. As I spent 15 years at MÁV and a decade at BKV, our full-time designers and the technical managers we hired came from these two transport companies.
Accordingly, the two main clients of Pro Montel Plc. are these two transport companies. What tasks have you fulfilled recently for BKV?
– We have maintenance and troubleshooting contracts with the Budapest Transport Company (BKV). We carried out reconstruction works on Metro 1 and Metro 2 lines, and at the end of 2012 we participated in the reconstruction of the Kőbánya Kispest terminal as well. The special situation of Köki (Kőbánya Kispest) meant a unique challenge regarding the design and implementation of the station and dispatch centre, since the metro station is linked to a railway station, a long-distance coach and a BKV bus terminal. Currently, our tasks are the installation of point machines and switch point heaters along the line of Nr. 1 tram, and the reconstruction of the safety equipment located on the Bécsi Road.
Have you assumed a role in the construction of the recently opened Metro 4?
– As a subcontractor of Siemens, first of all we had to meet challenges in the fields of communication, remote control and safety equipment. The tasks of manufacturing, installing, and coordinating the central passenger traffic and technical dispatch systems were considered professionally not lightweight. Besides the implementation of the tunnel radio and antenna systems it was also one of our responsibilities to lay the fibre optic cables. Furthermore, we integrated the control of the switch point heating into the depot monitoring system as well.
In June, a new visual passenger information system was officially put into operation at the Keleti Railway Station. Pro Montel Plc. was the main contractor of the investment. What new challenges have you encountered in this role?
– In addition to the professional part of the investment, the provision of funding also created difficulties. The Hungarian State Railways called for tenders for procurement, which practically meant that we did not receive advance payment, partial invoices were not paid, and an advanced investment of 250 million HUF from us was solely balanced after the completion of the project. As we previously have carried out several works at the country’s busiest railway station, field knowledge was considered one of our greatest advantages. The passenger information system of Keleti Station was implemented in the ’80s. Since then several upgrading have been carried out, some of them with our involvement, however, a complete structure development has never taken place.
A new and modern audio-visual computer controlled equipment has been put into operation at the station. This, besides conveying word-of-the-mouth information, also provides the production of ‘standard’ audio materials based on the so-called TTS (Text To Speech) systems. Thanks to the innovative solutions, the selected female voice is not only able to announce a timetable, but any text entered by the operator, after previous review.
The flap displays located at the Keleti track ends nearly thirty years ago have been replaced by modern units. Among other functions, these modern displays provide information about the compilation of trains departing from the respective platforms, later on about carriage locations, as well as they will provide a detailed written display of the public addressing. The replacement of the mechanical-visual passenger information equipment was necessary inter alia because the maintenance and updating of the old flap displays was costly. In addition, taking into account the direction of passenger flow directions, 140 cms (55”) and 107 cms (42”) size real time scheduling summary displays have also been installed at the station.
Were the station infrastructural facilities in all cases up to the expectations of modern age?
– It was only during the system installation that the previously used equipment room turned out to be much smaller than it should, and to top it all, the strength of the floor didn’t meet the new challenges. Fortunately, finding and renovating the new venue resulted in only a minimal delay. During the conversion, we also had to consult the Monument Protection Authority, and, fortunately, the office staff were flexible with regard to the project. One of the biggest challenges was still posed by the implementation of the sound equipment. The new public address voice is of good quality and it can be clearly understood even in the station environment. Keleti Station has not echoed since June, the loudspeaker’s voice can be heard equally clearly in the station environment and in the passenger waiting halls and platforms, which is also very important, because it contributes to providing better service for sixty thousand travellers daily. To achieve all these, in some cases we had to install eight-metre-long directed speakers of professional quality so that people in the close proximity of the speakers should not become deaf, yet those in the farthest reaches of the station could also hear the information properly. However, it must be admitted that due to the terrain settlement around Keleti Station the ambient noise is being reduced.
In case of a power failure, will the system still work?
– The public address system has been provided with two hours of uninterruptible power supply, which in practice means that if there is no current supply at the Keleti Station, the public address and visual information systems are able to perform their tasks for another 120 minutes.
Why exactly did the so-called TTS, i.e. Text To Speech system debut at the country’s busiest station? Wasn’t it too risky to introduce this new structure at such a frequented place?
– The truth is that neither MÁV, nor the professionals planned this way, but thanks to the maze of tenders this was the end result. Naturally we’ve been aware of the pitfalls of the system, since the operators had to get used to an entirely new structure. We expected major problems during the testing phase, but time has shown that good work has been done in cooperation with our partner companies.
The control system was supplied by Schauer Hungária Ltd., IT.DOT Ltd. provided the visual displays, and the supplier of the sound system was Interton Ltd.
The result of the good cooperation is a properly functioning system that primarily provides useful public information for passengers.
As the railway company intends to introduce and apply a unified national TTS audio technology at all domestic stations, we have been given new tasks. We are currently working at Keszthely, Füzesabony and Mezőkövesd stations, and also at Nagykáta and Újszász railway stations along the line 120.
What other MÁV projects are you involved in?
– We are working on the Óbuda-Piliscsaba line. As a subcontractor to Siemens, we design and implement station public addressing, visual public information systems, telecommunication systems and security solutions. As a DTB subcontractor, we contribute to the reconstruction works in Székesfehérvár and Vác.
Has Pro Montel Plc. had the opportunity to install systems abroad?
– In Poland, the reconstruction work of the Przemyśl Railway Station’s visual and passenger information system was performed by our company. Interestingly, there we found almost the same conditions as in our home country. In the capital of Macedonia, Skopje, we took part in the internal network development of a NATO base.•