Notorous delays, failing repay-system, overcrowded trains or broken, out-of-the-date ticket machines. Seems like forgotten story to most of us, but for many users of UK’s rail it has been an everyday’s reality since years.
Now, on 7th February 2017 the representants of British railway industry gathered together in Birmingham to discuss the future of Britain’s rail sector in face of global digitalization, hoping to find a solution to current problems as well as costumers’ rising demands for efficent services. Based on over 200 projects, researches and initiatives (both private and public) , the blueprint of Britain’s railway in the digital age has been set. It’s three main topics create a future-oriented image of changes towards which the railway companies shallcommonly strive.
1. Bluetooth and biometric ticketing replace traditional ‘tangerine’ ticket
Based on a free mobile app and a Bluetooth technology the new tickering method should help to optimize the ticket’s purchase and lower gate traffick, making the procedure fully contact-free. Although the usage of mobile ticketsing system is anyhow new, the biometric technology ( such as fingerprint or iris-scanning) surely gives the idea an technological push, parallelcoresponding with UK’s already existing numerous iris-like identification processes. Execution and evaluation of the project is pallned for this year and will be tested and powered by Chiltern Railways (Arriva UK Trains company) on their new route between London and Oxford.
2. Autonomous trains and new signalling technology
The Digital Railway is goverment’s £450m investment introducing conflict-avoiding and self-regulating trains, operated within the same network. Enabled by a new signalling technology it will allow the vehicles to adjust and learn between each to avoid delays and perform on their most.
Paul Plummer, the Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail:
“Our railway is increasingly full and while the industry is taking action to address the challenges of today, working together to deliver the £50bn plus Railway Upgrade Plan, we also need to be looking at the solutions of tomorrow. This blueprint sets out how we can harness digital technology to make journeys better for passengers and freight customers on a railway that’s simpler and easier to use. Britain’s railway exists to drive our economic prosperity. A 21st century railway offers opportunities for businesses to grow by bringing more technology to the railway more quickly. Everyone in the railway is working together to make this plan a success. The Capability Delivery Plan is an important step in ensuring that the whole railway and its supply chain collaborates efficiently and effectively to deliver the digital railway’s wide-ranging benefits, including better services for customers, more and better jobs for our people, and better value for taxpayers.”
Graham Hopkins, innovation lead for the Rail Supply Group and the rail industry’s Technical Leadership Group Chair:
“Delivery of these capabilities requires strong leadership, coordination, and collaboration from all parts of the industry. A united effort can ensure that the plan’s milestones are included in industry planning, and that funding is coordinated, targeted, and secured”.
3. New seating system in trains will create more space and minimise overcrowding
The problems of overcrowding won’t be solved only through big scale thinking. One type of new seat allows between 20-30 per cent more seats on a single carriage, allowing passengers to sit in a more upright position, as well as increased standing space for short-hop journeys on busy commuter trains. The seats are staggered, providing passengers with more shoulder space and an increased sense of personal space. Another type provides traditional seats during the day, but converts to a different a different configuration during peak times, allowing up to 15-20 per cent more seats and increased comfort for people who stand. The folding seat allows more passengers into a smaller area – with tables that also turn into a seat. Both new designs could be incorporated into existing trains within a year. (www.raildeliverygroup.com, 2017).
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