Train in station

Transforming rail operations

In a previous article, we discussed how the rail industry can harness modern technology to improve train station security. Today, we explore some of the ways that centralised monitoring, video analytics and cloud solutions add additional value through streamlined operations and intelligence.

Hybrid cloud technology offers exciting new possibilities for Great Britain’s 2,570 train stations, all of which are managed by Network Rail. Logistical and financial constraints will see stations embrace hybrid and fully-cloud solutions at their own pace. Yet, there are compelling advantages available now for those ready to embrace new ways of working.

Passenger satisfaction

An overcrowded station is an incredible frustration to passengers and can be the cause of numerous delays, missed connections and passenger safety incidents. While legacy CCTV systems can be viewed after the fact to see what went wrong and who’s to blame, they do little to address the issues in the moment.  That’s where video analytics, real-time alerts and automated standard operating procedures can make all the difference. All of a sudden cameras become a proactive tool that can assist with in the moment decision-making.

The ability to quickly understand when passenger flow is in danger of being disrupted and where the pinch-points are means early action can be taken to avoid small disruptions escalating into larger ones. For example, by redirecting passengers through quieter areas of the concourse or intelligently directing them to the right platform. A positive approach can keep journeys running smoothly, minimise complaints and prevent accidents.

Reduced Energy Costs

As alluded to above, station usage is unpredictable and varies day-by-day, hour-by-hour. It’s impacted by working patterns, strikes, delays, weather and a myriad of other factors beyond the direct control of the station master. This makes it impossible to reliably predict occupancy levels inside the station and often leads to heating, lighting and ventilation systems being left on 24/7, at great financial and environmental cost to the business.

Network Rail forecasts that, for the first time in the history of Britain’s railways, its energy bills will reach £1bn in 2023/24. That’s a jump of almost 50% on the year before. With the right video management software in place, existing security infrastructure can be used to gain a real-time understanding of how many people are currently present in a specific waiting room, on the platform or other parts of the concourse. Energy usage can then be automatically adjusted in real-time, providing a better experience for passengers and significant out-of-hours savings for the premises. Costs would still be high, but it can go some way to offsetting the rise. 

Revenue Generation

A key revenue source for train stations is the retail space inside the concourses. And train stations remain an attractive location due to the captive audience. Yet, with so many commercial premises currently lying vacant, retailers have a lot of choice on where to open their next concession.  

This is where intelligently visualising the data that is commonly captured but not used by security systems can make all the difference. Anonymised data on customer demographics, footfall and busiest times of day can be very valuable. It helps train stations to stand out from the crowd amongst all of the other locations that might also be being considered.

These are just some of the ways that a system like Genetec Security Center can be used for operations and intelligence, adding significant value beyond the security function. By leveraging and appropriately visualising the wealth of data that is already being captured we can create a better train station experience for passengers and staff. Furthermore, by embracing hybrid cloud infrastructures and centralised monitoring, we can unlock the cost and time efficiencies needed to pay for it.  

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