Coming soon: Green lights for all trams in Ghent and Antwerp
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Coming soon: Green lights for all trams in Ghent and Antwerp

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The Flemish government has announced it intends to make it possible for tram drivers in Ghent and Antwerp to turn all traffic lights to green to cut waiting time.

The two cities have a total of 288 junctions controlled by traffic lights where trams spend valuable journey time sitting at red. Now, using a new system of remote control, drivers approaching the light will soon be able to send out a signal which will automatically change the light to green, allowing them to pass unhindered.

The system works by short-range radio transmission, where radio signals can be transmitted over a limited area, reducing the likelihood of interfering with other transmissions. Examples of short-range devices, or SRDs, include Bluetooth devices and Wifi, which represent respectively 55% and 35% of all SRDs shipped worldwide.

Control of traffic signals is a growing application of short-range radio, but the Flemish government reckons the use in speeding up tram journeys will be a development welcome to users of De Lijn, the region’s public transport authority. Whether motorists will agree is another matter.

“With this technology we can ensure faster and smoother tram traffic in Antwerp and Ghent,” said mobility minister Lydia Peeters (Open VLD).

“But we also make a double profit because other road users do not have to stand at a red light. We can also make intersections as conflict-free as possible, which should ensure more road safety for all road users.”

The system is already in use on the coast tram, whose route is more or less on straight line from Knokke to De Panne. Meanwhile a test project is now operational in Ghent on tramlines 2 and 4, both of which serve Gent-Sint-Pieters main station.