Solar powered screens with customer information are to be installed at seven ScotRail stations – all in the Highlands.
No matter the weather, they will continue to operate in cold and even cloudy days.
They will be installed by the train operator at Alness, Beauly, Golspie, Invergordon, Lairg, Muir of Ord, and Tain stations, with support from the Technology Strategy Board and HITRANS – the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership.
The screens have been developed by Nexus Alpha Low Power Systems Ltd.
They will provide train running information – and have an automated speech facility for the visually impaired. By pressing a button, customers will be told verbally what is being displayed on the screen. At some sites, the displays will also be fitted with the RNIB’s React system which allows visually impaired passengers to trigger the system using a small personal radio fob.
Solar powered displays – featuring information about connecting buses – will also be provided outside the railway stations in Aviemore, Forres and Thurso.
The installation programmes are due to commence at the end of March.
Thanks to technological advances, it is expected that there will be sufficient power to display the information even during prolonged, overcast days.
The screens have ultra low power display technology and a combination of solar power and large batteries storing excess summer energy will support the systems in leaner winter months.
In addition, with customer information sent to the screens via a mobile data service, there is no need for cabling to the screens – either for power or data transmission.
The green innovation is part of ScotRail’s comprehensive climate change strategy aimed at reducing its carbon footprint and benefits from funding by the government-backed Technology Strategy Board.
Stewart Cahill, ScotRail’s Environmental Improvement Manager, stressed that other locations will be looked at for future solar customer information screens.
He added: “We have set ourselves tough targets on the environment and the solar powered screens are yet another demonstration of our commitment to sustainability.”
The introduction of React to trigger service information is an illustration of the commitment of both ScotRail and HITRANS to improving support for disabled travellers.
Cllr Duncan MacIntyre, Chair of HITRANS which secured the signs for installation at stations in their area, said: “HITRANS are really pleased to see this innovative solution to rural transport information installed in the Highlands.
“These signs are a fine example of the role renewable energy can play in the north of Scotland and we are delighted to have played a part in this exciting project.”
The systems will be provided by Nexus Alpha Low Power Systems, a UK leader in low power system provision to the public transport sector.
The research and development of the latest generation of NALPS solar powered screens was part-funded by a grant received from the Technology Strategy Board and with additional funding from HITRANS. The scheme is part of a Technology Strategy Board project that also includes JMW Ltd.