National Railway Museum opens new season of temporary exhibition Innovation Platform

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The National Railway Museum has launched the latest and final installation of its temporary exhibition programme Innovation Platform which showcases technology and innovation on the railways.

The third season of the exhibition is called ‘Communities’ and will run from March until August 2024 at the National Railway Museum, before sections of the exhibition will be displayed at Locomotion in Shildon.

The new season explores the role of railways in keeping communities connected, how they adapt to meet people’s needs and how they drive innovation, especially in making the railways more accessible for passengers.

The exhibition features three objects and thought-provoking items drawn from today’s railways – many going on display for the first time.

Innovation Platform at the NRM. Credit: Jason Hynes.

Highlights include a digital display of a passenger assistance app Aubin designed to help neurodiverse passengers and others who may find travel difficult. Developed by Jnction, the app also provides journey information, accessible station detail and communication tools for the user.

Continuing the showcase of accessible railway technology, the exhibition includes a digital totem screen deployed across the rail network as pivotal communication tools that offer enhanced customer information and accessible features.

Notably, these screens incorporate British Sign Language (BSL) to convey crucial updates such as train departures, platform changes, delays, and cancellations. This strategic integration ensures that members of the Deaf Community have equitable access to essential information, fostering inclusivity and equal participation for all passengers. The screens are developed and supplied by LB Foster and their BSL Partner Sign Solutions.

The exhibition also includes a lidar crowd monitoring system called Situate which uses artificial intelligence to alert operators to incidents in real time and to warn of concerning activity such as people standing too close to the platform edge.

The role of community protest is illustrated through a 32-metre section of ‘Train Bunting’ with 50 embroidered train coaches containing statistics, quotes and views on the impact of fare rises on communities. The petition was created in 2011 as a joint project called ‘Railway Adventure’ with organisations The Craftivist Collective and Climate Rush. The exhibition also includes campaign material from the RMT opposing the closure of ticket offices.

Interpretation Developer Susana De Anda Amador, said: “We have included a range of objects in the final season of Innovation Platform to show the impact of technology on the railways but also how people interact with the railways in their community. The exhibition is an exciting opportunity to share new stories about the future of the railways as well as the past, and for us to test new approaches and ways of working with the rail industry.”

As part of the previous theme of sustainability, seven objects were displayed in the museum including a hydrogen fuel cell from the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train, 3D-printed low-carbon concrete and a model of a battery powered shunting locomotive.

The first season of Innovation Platform which opened in 2022, explored autonomous technology with objects such as computer-guided wheelset ActiWheel and the Prometheus Drone used by Network Rail for safety critical ground inspection in small spaces.

Located in the National Railway Museum’s Great Hall close to the Eurostar power car, the exhibition will be displayed between March – September 2024 and is free to visit. To find out more, visit: www.railwaymuseum.org.uk/whats-on/innovation-platform.

Image credit: National Railway Museum

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