Train operator South Western Railway has revealed details of a new industry-first system for social distancing on trains.
Passengers could soon be able to see how busy individual carriages are on the train in real-time.
Using onboard CCTV cameras the system anonymously count passengers on each carriage.
Currently, in trial mode, South Western Railway plan to make the information available to passengers via their app and website.
As lockdown restrictions ease this kind of information will help passengers decide when to travel on the train and help avoid overcrowding and maintain social distancing.
AI technology company PoS Insights are working with South Western Rail on the system along with onboard Wi-Fi provider Icomera.
The current trial is taking place behind the scenes on the Desiro fleet on train services from London to Basingstoke, Portsmouth, Southampton and Weymouth.
If the pilot is successful, the train operator plan to roll it out across their Class 444 and 450 fleets as soon as possible.
Commenting, SWR’s Commercial Director Peter Williams said: “We know that there are lots of things that feel uncertain at the moment, that’s why we’re doing all we can to help make travelling with us as smooth and safe as possible.
“In addition to helping maintain social distancing, and improving customer comfort and convenience, we hope to use this enhanced information to inform decision making in our control room, and further improve the punctuality and reliability of our services.”
Peter Kingsland, Icomera’s Senior Vice President for UK, Asia & Australia, said: “Icomera is delighted to work with South Western Railway and PoS Insights to enable this exciting new solution.
“The ability to effectively monitor ridership numbers in real-time provides an important means for passengers to make informed journey decisions during the pandemic, which ties in perfectly with our mission to make public transport a safer and more attractive option.”
John Price, CEO of PoS Insights said: “With our technology already in use across many of the UK’s railway stations, working with SWR and Icomera to bring the technology on-board trains is not only an industry first, but also a significant milestone for improving customer experience and further enhancing the rail network”.
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