Rail Industry Focus

23.01.20

New tech-enabled trains are putting passengers in control

Source: RTM Dec 19/Jan 20

Robert Nisbet, director of Nations and Regions at the Rail Delivery Group, looks ahead at the future of Interconnectivity of the Rail Industry.

This year, nine operators are introducing new and upgraded trains with better technology on board, which are part of the industry’s commitment to replace half of Britain’s train fleet new for old. This means more accurate information in advance, giving passengers greater control over their journeys.

New GPS-enabled trains will provide people with exact information about a train’s location, reducing instances of trains, predicted to be on time, suddenly showing as delayed. The location of older trains is only measured when they pass signals, which can be up to five miles apart. Chiltern, Grand Central, LNER and parts of Northern and ScotRail started using GPS last year and this improved data will feed into TrainMapper – a new system to track trains, powered by Google Maps, soon to launch on the National Rail website.

New technology can also tell people which carriages are emptier using data on footfall and reservations, and even where to stand on the platform to board the train. GTR’s Class 700 Thameslink trains are an example of where weighing technology is already telling passengers on board where to find carriages with more space. As new trains follow suit, passengers will get more and better information through screens at stations and their phones.

Passengers can also sign up to receive personalised information, making it easier to plan at stressful points in their journey. This includes suggestions for alternative routes during disruption through Facebook Messenger and ‘Alert Me’ in the National Rail app.

As 1,000 extra train carriages come on track in 2020, the nation’s fleet will grow from nearly 15,000 train carriages today to almost 16,000 by the end of the year. With more, tech-upgraded carriages, passengers will feel the benefits with more space, more frequent services and more information available at their fingertips.

Recently Robert Nisbet was a guest on our podcast, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming episode in the next couple of weeks. 

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