Specifier Review
Costain and SWARCO first in the UK to develop and install next generation of digital road message signs

Costain and SWARCO first in the UK to develop and install next generation of digital road message signs

Marking an industry first, Costain and SWARCO have collaborated to develop and install the next generation of digital road message signs.

On behalf of Highways England, the two companies pioneered the technology behind the new signs with Costain delivering the roadside controller and SWARCO delivering the signs. This next generation of signs is able to get messages to road users more quickly, thereby improving road safety and the journey experience for travellers.

The new signs use unique high-resolution colour optical technology components which enable clearer messages and graphics to be displayed in all weather conditions, providing reliable and easy-to-understand information to keep road users continually informed about road conditions. Innovative approaches to design and production also mean the signs are more cost effective and easier to maintain. For example, less materials and cabling have been used, minimising maintenance requirements and the time engineers spend at the roadside.

In addition, the signs also have the capability to display live video pictures of congestion on the road ahead.  Such information could be provided to road users in the future.

Ian Parker, managing director, transportation, said:

“Costain is leading the way in the use of digital technologies on the strategic road network and changing the landscape in how road users use road signs, improving safety and journey experience.”

Jeremy Cowling, vice president of ITS UK and APMEA at SWARCO, said: 

‘SWARCO is extremely proud to have worked with Costain on this project. We are at the forefront in developing low power, sustainable technologies to make our roads safer. This results in highly legible, environmentally friendly road signs which also minimise maintenance time and costs.’

Courtesy of the support of the A14 team, the first of these signs were installed on the country’s biggest road project between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

Costain and SWARCO will be installing more of these next generation signs throughout the remainder of this year and into 2020 on the smart motorway programme including the M20, M23 and the M1.

About Costain

Costain helps to improve people’s lives with integrated, leading edge, smart infrastructure solutions across the UK’s energy, water, transportation and defence markets. We help our clients improve their business performance by increasing capacity, improving customer service, safeguarding security, enhancing resilience, decarbonising and delivering increased efficiency. Our vision is to be the UK’s leading smart infrastructure solutions company.

We will achieve this by focusing on blue chip clients whose major spending plans are underpinned by strategic national needs, regulatory commitments, legislation or essential performance requirements.

We offer our clients leading edge solutions that are digitally optimised through the following five services which cover the whole lifecycle of their assets:  future-shaping strategic consultancy; consultancy and advisory; digital technology solutions; asset optimisation and complex programme delivery.  Our culture and values underpin everything we do.

For more information visit www.costain.com  


SWARCO is a growing international group providing the complete range of products, systems, services and solutions for road safety and intelligent traffic management.

With five decades of experience in the industry, the corporation supports the growing mobility needs of society with turnkey systems and solutions in urban and interurban traffic control, parking, public transport, infomobility and road marking. Cooperative systems, I2V communication, electromobility, and integrated software solutions for the Smart City are the latest, future-oriented fields in the group’s portfolio.

For more information visit www.swarco.com

Costain and SWARCO first in the UK to develop and install next generation of digital road message signs 1