French Engineering Doctrine For Highway Operation: Activity Processes, Service Organisation and Technical Procedures

French Engineering Doctrine For Highway Operation: Activity Processes, Service Organisation and Technical Procedures


C Peyronne, SETRA, FR



Traditionally, highway operation activities have mainly concerned maintenance work to the carriageways, roadside ancillaries, permanent signing and safety equipment.

At the end of the 1980s, developments made in telecommunications and computers, combined with increasing traffic levels, led to users expressing ever-higher expectations. Users now expect a highly operational maintenance level alongside services providing information on traffic conditions and potential difficulties. This development has led the operator sector to undergo in-depth changes, especially where the needs are the most strongly expressed; heavy traffic motorway corridors in interurban environments and urban expressways in highly urbanised areas.

In France, to meet user expectations, the Ministry of Transportation launched a road operation master plan (Schéma directeur de l'exploitation de la route - SDER) at the beginning of the 1990s. While this plan had the particularity of proposing service objectives, it distanced itself from purely technical concerns to examine the issue of organisations that might be able to produce these services and the processes associated with this production. In 2000, this plan was completed by the road information master plan (Schéma directeur d'information routière - SDIR) that reinforced the emphasis already placed on information provided to road users by the SDER.

The Ministry?s technical departments accompanied this development by an intensive production of engineering doctrine for highway operation. This took the form of recommendation guides within which the organisational and procedural recommendations are considered to be as important as the technical aspects.

The aim of this article is to present an overview of this engineering policy and to illustrate it through a number of chosen examples.

The following subjects shall be developed:

* The overall perspective, given by a guide providing a catalogue of operational activities and means (Catalogue des activités et mesures d'exploitation - Sétra, 2001). Highway operation is presented as a meta-process comprising eight major activity processes: Knowing the network and its environment, Supervising the operation of the network, Forecasting and Anticipating, Organising, Informing and communicating, Maintaining serviceability, Optimising the use of the network, and Adapting the road-ways and the inert equipment. For each major process, the main corresponding activities are specified in terms of objective, principle, implementation, inconveniences and constraints, and the impacts to be achieved.

* The global organisation of the network operational services: this led to the production of a highway operation glossary (glossaire de l'exploitation de la route - Sétra, 1996) that provides a shared vocabulary. In more operational terms, the guide covering the design and operation of engineering and traffic management centres (Conception et fonctionnement des Centres d'ingénierie et de gestion du traffic - Sétra, 2000) recom-mends an organisation able to plan the operational activities of a network and ensure traffic flow management and user information in coordination with other partners (po-lice, other operators, CRICR, etc.).

* The network programmes and intervention plans: not just the programming and coor-dination of site works, but also a winter maintenance organisation, traffic management plans, etc.

* The carrying out of day-to-day tasks by operational agents. For example the patrols organisation guide (Organisation des patrouilles - Sétra, 1999) presents the functional process of a patrol, as well as the basic procedures needed to intervene in a series of situations.


Association for European Transport