World premier: Rostock-Gedser ferry successfully embedded in an intermodal cross-border transport chain in real-time

01.07.2014


For the first time ever a cross-border ferry could be successfully embedded in an intermodal transport chain in real-time. Currently real-time information for ferries is provided on screens inside the passenger terminal of Rostock Port. Moreover real-time information can be retrieved via the mobile applications (Android and Apple) of Verkehrsverbund Warnow. Outside screens at train and bus stations in Rostock, Gedser and Nykøbing will be provided in the near future. Also we expect that at the end of the year, probably in November, real-time will be displayed also on board of the ferries.

What makes this effort unique? The Automatic Identification System (AIS) enables the positioning of ships - a process called “tracking”. However, by AIS it cannot be determined if the ferry is on time- or at what time the ferry is expected to arrive at the port of call.  To display a ferry in real-time - as it is common for other modes of transport already- “tracking points” need to be marked at certain points along the route. For each tracking point a time in correspondence with the normal schedule is then defined. The special challenge for ferries is that in contrast to other modes they are not operated on firm tracks (like streets or railways). Moreover speed limits, which usually serve as good orientations for the definition of the schedule time tracking points, can only be used in limited areas (not on high sea). Moreover there are many specifics like turning manoeuvres or long docking processes, which need to be considered when marking the tracking points.

As these information are not available so far – neither for the ferry connection Rostock-Gedser nor for any other ferry connection in the world- they need to be marked manually during several “normal” crossings from ferry dock to ferry dock. This has been carried out during the last months. Tracking points are the basis to generate a forecast model for the given route (What time is needed from tracking point A to B?) and to provide real-time forecasting information. This could be successfully managed by INTERFACE PLUS project.