Refurbishment and relocation for the Heathrow Express Control Room

July 26, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Firstco, the technical consultancy, project management and systems integration specialists, have completed the two-stage relocation and refurbishment of the Heathrow Express Control Room (HECR). The move was prompted because a new multi-storey car park was being built directly above the site of the original control room.

“The first phase of the project involved setting up a fully-functional temporary control room on the site of the back-up control room,” explained Bill Martin, Firstco’s managing director.

“The challenges were to maintain the operational effectiveness of the back-up room while building the new facility around it - and to move out the BAA engineering department that shared it.

“This meant that Firstco needed to move and break down the equipment onto a single desk and relocate it into various positions to allow the old walls and cabling to be removed,” he said. “Fibre optic cabling had to be re-routed under the floor while the equipment rack was relocated around the room.

“The key challenge for everyone was to continue to run a full train service between the Heathrow terminals and London’s Paddington mainline station while all the work was going on – and both Firstco and Heathrow Express staff surpassed this challenge with flying colours,” he added.

“We fitted CCTV monitors, moved the operational back-up facilities to a new desk and installed and commissioned all the systems,” he said. “Eventually – having had to work around the old Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for some time - Firstco took out the old UPS, installed systems, ran cables and commissioned the control room.”

With the systems finally installed and commissioned, Heathrow Express staff moved in to trial the new control room. The trial was successful: Firstco had succeeded in relocating the control room and ensured no disruption to Heathrow Express' revenue service.

Then, once work on the car park was completed, the second phase of the project began: designing and relocating the control room.

“The new HECR required a design that was flexible, maintainable and, above all, future-proof,” Martin explained. ”Although many of the active systems remained unchanged, Firstco have provided a new infrastructure with intrinsic enhancement superseding the original components.”

The new system enables video, data, voice, PA, radio and control functions to run over the same infrastructure. All the displays are LCD, the array features three 40” screens with HD capability and the desks allow users to alter their ergonomic surroundings.

In addition, the HECR has access to 24-hour news channels, DAB radio and DVD. It also has a number of in-built safety and security features.

Once Heathrow Express staff had carried out a successful trial of these new facilities, they re-located their operations there, leaving the temporary control room to become a back-up facility.

“We’ve designed the new control room to enable future enhancements to be made with the minimum of intrusion and disruption,” Martin said.


Notes for Editors:

Pictures of the Heathrow Express Control Room are available on request from Bob Little Press & PR: tel 01727 860405 and

About Firstco

Established in 1998, Firstco is now a major force in the areas of technical consultancy, project management and systems integration. Working in a range of industries – notably transport, especially rail installations and airports; power and construction – Firstco specialises in controls and communication solutions for assignments of all sizes from buildings through to large scale infrastructure projects.

Firstco’s in-house team includes specialists in: electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, software engineering, consulting, project management and commissioning management.
Through its core services of consultancy, system delivery and project management, Firstco provides its clients with a total solution - from concept to commissioning and maintenance, based on collaboration and integration with clients and partners.

Its mission is to advise, deliver and support high quality control and communications solutions that improve transport and workplace environments, create value for clients and make a positive difference to their end users.

Firstco’s approach is based on four core values:

• Service Excellence - achieving client confidence by truly understanding the business drivers and the project requirements, delivering the agreed solution to plan, managing issues and communicating clearly and regularly - while being easy to do business with and enjoyable to work with.
• Integrity - applying professional and technical expertise to ensure the right solution for the right reasons, as well as being open, honest and fair in all of its dealings.
• Teamwork - deploying the right blend of talent and experience to get the job done, and integrating effectively with client and third party personnel and activities.
• Development - continually seeking to enhance its own capabilities and processes, enabling it to remain innovative and challenging - and sharing this with its clients.

Firstco’s clients include: BAA Heathrow Airport Ltd; Esso Petroleum; Heathrow Express Operating Company; London Underground Ltd; Standard Life Assurance; Morgan Stanley; Arup Associates; Balfour Kilpatrick; Landis & Gyr; London Electricity Services, Mott MacDonald, Crown House and Transmanche Link.

Further information from:
David Blight / Rupert Exham, Firstco, 0207 034 0833;
Bob Little, Bob Little Press & PR, 01727 860405