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Northern Gas Networks, the North of England’s gas distributor, has been recognised for its innovative work to improve the impact of traffic management on customers when improvements to the network are taking place.

Traffic management, such as temporary traffic lights or lane closures can be necessary when, for example, gas pipes are being replaced. In traffic sensitive areas, a Traffic Management Plan (TMP) is always required before work can start; agreed with the local authority and other stakeholders. However, these plans can be complicated and slow to produce.

Now, the Innovation Team at Northern Gas Networks (NGN) is developing new ways to plan traffic management so that it will have less of an impact on people’s lives. And it’s this work that has seen NGN shortlisted for a national award by the UK Society for Trenchless Technology (UKSTT); a charity which promotes new technologies and practices which don’t involve digging.

New software developed by NGN and project partner 1 Spatial now makes it possible to generate automated traffic plans far more quickly, with clear benefits for road users, local businesses and other customers.

And it’s this responsive approach which has seen the project shortlisted in the UKSTT awards’ category for the Application of Digital Technology.

NGN’s Head of Innovation, Richard Hynes-Cooper, said: “This shortlisting recognises the ability for our designers, planners and engineers to generate traffic management plans, at the click of a button. This is a potential game-changer for the industry.

“It will save money on every traffic management scheme that we create, as well as ensuring that our key local stakeholders, such as councils, have quick and easy access to our plans.

“However, what is most exciting about this innovation for me is the ability to make our schemes even more customer-focused. Bu building in key information such as local traffic flows, we can design schemes which are less disruptive, and more sensitive to local issues.”

The category winners will be announced at the UKSTT’s Annual Awards 2019 ceremony on 17th September.

Northern Gas Networks has around 1,700km of large diameter gas mains, stretching across Cumbria, Yorkshire and the North East – all of which require regular upkeep and assessment.

Across the network, NGN is investing in the replacement of existing metal gas pipes with more durable plastic ones which will last much longer.

Working to develop new approaches, whether they are automated traffic plans or robotic engineers which can go down into gas pipes to carry out repairs, is a key part of NGN’s role as industry leaders and innovators: enabling us to provide the best possible service to customers.

Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24-hours a day, seven days a week.