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Greater Anglia launches virtual station tours to aid journey planning

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Greater Anglia has launched an online virtual tour of Harlow Town rail station to help people travel with confidence.

The tour has been designed to support journey planning, and give customers a clearer picture of the station before they travel, which is especially useful for disabled customers wanting to check how accessible their journey is.

Using the virtual station tour, people can find out how to get to all public areas of the station. Detailed 360-degree photography has been used to map the station, capturing all public spaces, which people can navigate virtually even visiting the toilet or the waiting room before going to the platform. Aerial photography and an interactive map has also been used to show the location of all the customer facilities in relation to each other.

Members of Greater Anglia’s Accessibility Panel, a group of disabled customers who meet regularly with the train company, offered feedback during the development of the project and have been supportive of the project.

Screen shot of the virtual tour showing the front of Harlow Town station

The web-based online virtual tour offers autopilot or manual choices for navigating the station, and an interactive map to see the entire station layout with ‘hot spot’ links to specific areas of the station. There is an aerial view showing the car park, cycle parking, bus stop and taxi rank / drop off location.

Key features such as tactile paving – textured paving on the edge of platforms – assisted travel meeting points and toilets and individual platforms can also be navigated to directly through a drop-down menu system.

The tour’s software has been designed to be accessible. A spoken scene guide with closed captions plays on the home page at the station entrance and it features an accessibility widget that enables the user to change to high contrast, large font size or audio transcribe. Future developments will look at incorporating British Sign Language videos.

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.”

Tours of Bishops Stortford, Broxbourne, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Colchester, Norwich, Shenfield and Stansted Airport rail stations are also now available with Ingatestone, Ipswich and Southend Victoria to follow.

The tours can be viewed at www.greateranglia.co.uk/travel-information/your-journey/virtual-tours.

Image credit: Greater Anglia

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