Firstco has been responsible for the passenger information systems at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 rail station. This includes the PA, clocks, and four train-information display systems.

The work at Terminal 5 has been markedly different to the previous projects for most Firstco employees as it was a completely fresh build. This meant that they have had more control over things like the layout of equipment rooms and easier access, but they have also had to deal with shifting walls and unavailability of rooms and areas as other teams completed their works.

Despite it being ostensibly a clean slate, there was a lot of work to integrate with existing systems such as the London Underground train describer feeds, four Ethernet network connections, and existing train information and PA equipment. As nearly all of the systems converge in a single front-end for the client, our whole team has had to work closely, and as such we all have a strong understanding of how the different systems function and interact.

One obstacle of working in the T5 rail station has been that it is the meeting point of several environments. In addition to the customer requirements, we have also had London Underground, Tubelines, BAA and Network Rail standards to consider. The size of the project has also been a factor in the work, which has been complicated by the high security and sheer number of components and interfaces.

More positively, we have also found that suppliers have been far more obliging and we have had dedicated teams working with us on the assurance and HMI aspects of our designs. It has been a good experience to work on a project with such a high public profile, and to be given the opportunity to assist in the creation of a best-in-class rail station.