South Western Railway (SWR) customers will be able to avoid overcrowded carriages under plans for technology that provides real-time information about the busiest trains.
The innovative system uses onboard CCTV cameras to anonymously ‘count’ the number of passengers in each carriage in real-time. The system is currently in trial mode, with the company planning to make the data immediately available to customers via the SWR app and website, allowing them to make decisions even before they arrive at the station.
The trail is timely, as travel restrictions ease and the railway maximises efforts to allow customers to travel with confidence again. As SWR welcomes passengers back, it hopes the new technology will help customers to maintain social distancing and avoid overcrowding.
The enhanced information is the result of a collaboration between SWR, AI technology company PoS Insights, and on-board Wi-Fi provider Icomera.
The innovative system connects to existing CCTV cameras to capture, analyse and report occupancy data in real time in the form of a RAG status. The system is currently being trialled behind the scenes on SWR’s Desiro fleet, travelling from London to Basingstoke, Portsmouth, Southampton and Weymouth. SWR plans to make it customer facing and roll it out across their Class 444 and 450 fleets as soon as possible, and ultimately network-wide.
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”.