The tour of Southend Victoria has been created to aid journey planning and provide customers with a clear view of the station ahead of travelling in order to reduce anxiety when it comes to making their way from car park to platform to airport.
People can find out how to get to all public areas of the station using the virtual tour such as toilets customer service desk and platforms alongside other areas they may need to visit at the station including car parks or drop-off points, which will make journey planning much easier.
360 Degree photography has been used to create a detailed map and tour of Southend Victoria station, which has captured all public spaces and allows people to navigate virtually, even allowing a virtual visit to the toilet or waiting room ahead of moving on to the platform.
Aerial photography as well as an interactive map also demonstrates the location of every customer facility in relation to each other.
Greater Anglia’s Accessibility Panel are a group of disabled customers who meet up with the rail operator on a regular basis in order to offer feedback. Throughout the development of the project, members from the panel have provided their thoughts and ideas and have been supportive of the project.
The online virtual tour is web-based and provides either autopilot or manual options for navigating the station, an interactive map which provides a view of the entire station layout with ‘hot spot’ links for particular areas of the station.
The aerial view also shows the car park, cycle parking, bus stop and taxi rank/drop off point.
The tour also includes important features such as tactile paving, which is the textured paving at the edge of platforms, assisted travel meeting points and toilets, individual platforms can also be negotiated directly using a drop-down menu.
The ‘autopilot’ option provides users with the ability to choose their destination location within the station and will automatically guide them to it or, if preferred, via a series of clicks.
The Virtual Tour company have provided the technology for the project and has also designed it to be accessible.
A spoken scene guide using closed captions plays on the home page at the station entrance and includes an accessibility widget that allows users to alter for high contrast, larger font size or audio transcribe. The future of the project hopes to see British Sign Language videos included as part of Greater Anglia’s ongoing commitment to providing improved customer information.
The virtual tours can be viewed online here https://www.greateranglia.co.uk/travel-information/your-journey/virtual-tours with more stations set to be added in the future.
Greater Anglia’s Accessibility Manager, Rebecca Richardson, said:
“The idea was to create a tool for customers to assist them with their journey planning and reduce the anxiety about whether the station would create any accessibility barriers. We want to give people who may not have travelled by rail for a while or maybe not at all, to do so with confidence.
“We are committed to making rail more accessible and providing quality information to enable more informed journey planning.
Neil Henderson, Managing Director of Virtual Tour Experts, said:
“We’ve really enjoyed working on this project to create a number of industry firsts. The world of VR is developing fast but until now that development has not given due consideration to online accessibility.
“This tour is the World’s first to incorporate an accessibility widget, guided tours, subtitled scene guides and there is much more to come. The user-first attitude of the team at Greater Anglia provided the perfect base for development and will ensure the platform continues to evolve.”
The Virtual Tour company is currently making 360-degree virtual tours for ten of Greater Anglia’s busiest stations.
Tours of Bishops Stortford, Broxbourne, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Colchester, Harlow Town, Norwich, Shenfield and Stansted Airport rail stations are available now, with Ingatestone and Ipswich set to follow.