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Innovation: dynamic platform guidance

Using data on the location of an incoming train's doors, dynamic lighting shows people where to stand to ensure a safe and rapid stop

The challenge

Performance and safety (including the movement of people) at train stations is a key concern in rail transport today; especially with the increasing number of passengers, and often out-dated station spaces. The Rail Technology Strategy believes that improving capacity and enhancing customer experience will increase passenger flow in stations. Which has the potential to deliver benefits of over £258m. A consortium consisting of Urban Control, DW Windsor, the DfT, InnovateUK, FirstGroup, The University of Nottingham and the RSSB, embarked on a study to address these concerns.

Proof of concept

The University of Nottingham’s Human Factors team and Geospatial Institute led a research study to identify the typical movement-related issues a station faces. They then conducted an extensive review of lighting research literature, particularly, reported effects of lighting upon behaviour/mood. Which led to the identification of clear opportunities for using light to influence movement behaviours.

As a result, the FirstGroup agreed for a proof of concept trial site, at Chippenham Station. A project funded by the Department for Transport and delivered through a competition run by InnovateUK: Accelerating Innovation in Rail 4 (AIR4).

Led by our sister company DW Windsor, Urban Control developed new wireless, connected lights and sensors that are controlled through cloud-based software.

Platforms project

Aim: to reduce delay time and improve customer experience and safety; providing intuitive information to customers on where to stand to board the train and improve the flow of passengers off the trains and on the platform.

We used Gobo projected lighting on the platform to indicate to passengers where to stand in alignment with a carriage door; allowing a freer flow of passengers disembarking.

The result

Initial results were extremely positive.

People did notice the lights (i.e. looked up ‐ looked back, looked up ‐looked along) and a small proportion of people used the lights to stand in the correct place. There were several types of interactions with the lights.

Responses were categorised into 5 major response types:

  1. Passengers positioned in an area from which it would be difficult to see the light and/or they are turned away from the lights.

  2. The passenger is positioned in an area in which it would be easy to see the lights, but for whatever reason e.g. on the phone, they do not notice the lights.

  3. The passenger notices the lights and may look up into the canopy, onto the projection or along with the platform, but takes no further action in response to the light.

  4. Passengers notice the light and interact with it by looking/moving either a body part (e.g. foot) or whole body into and/or out of the projection.

  5. Participants are positioned away from the lighting but once activated, appears to move closer/into the light after the light.

“This has been a very exciting project to be involved in. Innovative initiatives of this nature can open the door to a world of possibilities and are setting the standard for future customer experiences” Stuart Parker, FirstGroup, Property Director

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