Technology is ever-growing and changing railway travel is no exception. With a total of 990 million train journeys made in the past year, rail remains one of the UK’s most popular methods of transport and in this article, we’ll look at the innovative ways in which technology is impacting train travel.
Traffic Management Technology
Rail providers have been developing new systems to minimise delays and ensure that trains run on schedule wherever possible, including train journeys along popular routes. Suitable for both passenger trains and freight operators, the newly-developed Thales ARAMIS system helps more than 300 trains a day by providing real-time data and flagging potential issues. The Traffic Management System (TMS) can automatically set routes for trains and log a train’s movements as well as detect and solve possible conflicts. Traffic management systems help to minimises disruption after incidents, meaning that rail services can return to normal as soon as possible.
Augmented Reality (AR) technology is making waves in the rail industry as a key tool to simplify operations and improve the passenger experience. AR can be used to provide passengers with information, enabling them to find their way in crowded stations and plan their journey. It can also be used to entertain passengers, for example, through virtual tours of historic stations.
AR is also being used to aid rail employees. AR can improve staff training and allow rail employees to engage with realistic scenarios that help them prepare for situations they might encounter in their work. AR technology is also being used by engineers working on the UK’s upcoming high-speed rail line, HS2, to create a replica of new stations, such as the Old Oak Common station in London, allowing staff to give feedback on the design.
Rail maintenance is another area where AR is being used, allowing railways to be checked remotely where possible, and using weather forecasts and AI to find the safest, most practical ways for maintenance and repairs to be carried out.
Technology is also being developed to make rail travel safer, including a new algorithm that combines track circuit and signal berth data to accurately identify a train’s location at any moment. Created by coders, the algorithm was the winning entry at the HackTrain VI event in 2020, where innovators gathered to create new rail solutions. The winning algorithm can also be used to make journey timetabling more accurate and improve operations, providing a safer, more efficient service to rail passengers.