Enhancing Motorway Operation Services (eMOS) Programme

Overview

The M50 is a critical component of our national infrastructure. In 2020, it facilitated the movement of goods valued in the region of €30- €35 billion to the Irish economy.

The eMOS programme is designed to protect the M50 by:

  • safeguarding the safety, resilience and sustainability of the motorway network;
  • reducing the adverse impact of future traffic growth on service levels on this key strategic link; and
  • providing TII with the systems to deliver a more efficient, flexible and responsive service to road users.

The programme consists of three key strands:

1. The expansion of the existing Dublin Tunnel Control Building to provide a new, stateof-the-art motorway operations control centre that both modernises and futureproofs the environment in which TII manages the motorway network.

2. The deployment of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology and equipment on the M50, including lane control signals, variable message signs (VMS) and CCTV coverage.

3. The implementation of an overarching, adaptive system that receives and processes information from multiple roadside traffic monitoring devices, allowing operators to set signs on the M50 and provide a more integrated road management service to road users.

The programme is being rolled out in a phased, incremental manner, with the first digital signs being switched on between Junction 4 Ballymun and Junction 6 Castleknock in autumn 2021. The system is expected to be fully deployed on the M50 in early 2023.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland is delivering the eMOS programme on behalf of the Department of Transport.

Programme objectives

When complete, the eMOS programme will deliver a safer, more efficient and sustainable M50.

It will enable TII to:

  • react to real-time events on the network;
  • display lower speeds on new digital signs installed on overhead gantries in response to conditions on the motorway;
  • enhance protections for emergency responders dealing with incidents on the M50; and
  • keep road users better informed about incidents ahead and how they may affect their journey. 

Background

The M50 links Ireland’s biggest airport, Dublin Airport, and biggest port, Dublin Port, to the Dublin area and the motorways leading to other cities across the country.

M50 traffic figures before the COVID-19 pandemic showed the following:

  • Total trips on the M50 rose 40% during the period from 2011 to 2019;
  • On average, there was in excess of 400,000 trips on the M50 per day;
  • Approximately 40% of daily trips occurred during peak hours;
  • Busiest section was between the N2 junction (Finglas) and the N3 junction (Castleknock);
  • On the busiest section, some 10,000 – 15,000 (7-10%) of peak period trips were heavy goods vehicles (HGVs); and
  • 44% of M50 trips were less the 20km in distance while 70% were less than 30km.

Approach

The programme is being rolled out in an incremental manner. The first stage comprised the expansion of the existing Dublin Tunnel Control Building to provide a new, state-of-the-art motorway operations control centre.

The second stage consists of the implementation of cutting-edge intelligent transport systems (ITS) technology across the M50 to optimise road safety, enhance the efficiency of the road, and improve journey time reliability. It is being rolled-out in a phased manner, with the first digital signs being switched on between Junction 4 Ballymun and Junction 6 Castleknock in autumn 2021. This incremental approach will allow road users time to familiarise themselves with the new signs and adjust their driving behaviour accordingly in advance of the introduction of regulatory speed limits.

PhaseWhenSection
Phase 1 Autumn 2021 J4 Ballymun to J6 Castleknock
Phase 2 Spring 2022 J6 Castleknock to J9 Red Cow
Phase 3 Summer 2022 J9 Red Cow to J12 Firhouse
Phase 4 Autumn 2022 J12 Firhouse to J14 Sandyford
Phase 5 Winter 2022/23 J14 Sandyford to J17 M11 and J3 M1 to J4 Ballymun

Solution

The Motorway Operations Control Centre

The motorway operations control centre was constructed as part of an upgrade and extension to the existing Dublin Tunnel Control Building on East Wall Road. A state-of-the-art facility, it is equipped with the latest technology to allow real-time monitoring of the motorway network. The design of the two-storey extension is centred around the main control room, where motorway and tunnel operators sit side-by-side, monitoring the M50 motorway and its approaches, the N40 in Cork, the Dublin Tunnel and the Jack Lynch Tunnel in Cork. A 3mhigh, 15m-wide, 4.2-million-pixel video wall displays real-time feeds from the motorway CCTV camera network. The video wall allows operators to spot developing incidents, enlarge views of incidents as they occur, and study CCTV images in detail before making decisions.

Separated from the main control room by a full height glass panel is an incident management room, equipped with four screens for the display of selected CCTV footage. It gives staff a clear view of the control room and its main displays and serves as the location for coordinating the response to major incidents on the road network.

Works began in November 2018 and were completed in December 2020.

Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technology

The eMOS programme aims to mitigate the adverse effects of future traffic growth on safety levels on the M50 through the implementation of intelligent transport systems (ITS) technology on the motorway. In addition to optimising road safety, it will enhance the efficiency of the road, and improve journey time reliability by reducing the number of ‘stop and starts’ that take place along the M50 and the need for drivers to brake suddenly in response to standstill traffic. Similar ITS systems have been demonstrated to work in North America, Australia and the UK, where over 500 miles of this type of motorway is in place, including on sections of the M25 around London.

Real-time information from automatic incident detection loops in the road surface, CCTV cameras, and other communications and roadside equipment will be used to determine the appropriate speed at which vehicles should travel. The speed will be communicated to road users through digital signs located above each lane. In the event of an incident on the M50, road works or at times of heavy traffic flow, the speeds displayed on the digital signs will be August 2021 4 lowered to slow traffic, reducing queuing and the associated risk of collisions as vehicles approach the back of queues.

The eMOS programme is delivering new structures and equipment to support the introduction of digital signs on the M50, including:

  • 19 new gantries;
  • 386 Lane Control Signals;
  • 64 Variable Message Signs (VMS);
  • 45 CCTV Cameras; and
  • 54 Slip Road Signs on the entry points to the M50. 

Network Intelligence and Management System (NIMS)

The NIMS solution is designed to provide operators with a new system that provides the intelligence and functions needed to support TII’s vision of managing the motorway network effectively and efficiently, both now and in the future.

The NIMS system will support TII in delivering:

  • management of traffic flow in line with the objectives of Variable Speed Management;
  • coordination of incident responses with the emergency services and incident response units from other contractors; and
  • capturing and disseminating traffic information to road users via a variety of media, including roadside variable message signs, social media and the TII Traffic website.

Public awareness campaign

TII and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) are rolling out a public awareness campaign to make drivers aware of the introduction of new cautionary speed signs on the M50, when they will be switched on, and the importance of following the signs to keep the M50 safe.