Government to 'transform' rail travel through tech projects
Projects including an augmented reality app and technology to assist disabled passengers have been included £3.6 million of investment from the government to transform rail travel.
A total of 10 projects which politicians believe are capable of “demonstrating upgrades to rail travel in real-world environments” have been backed with the money.
The AR app from Meyouandus Ltd highlights landmarks during a journey. Named the 'AR Trainkit & Fantasia Express', it is to receive £343,000 in funding.
Another project from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association involves beacons which guide visually-impaired passengers through stations and to their seat. It will receive £350,000 of investment.
A further piece of technology to be funded with £350,000 - the 'Transreport Passenger Assist System' - enables disabled passengers to seek real-time assistance with their journey.
The projects - which include a carriage design, pictured above, that can quickly switch from carrying passengers to carrying goods - will be showcased through real-life demonstrators, enabling passengers to experience and feedback on the innovations.
“We are investing in the biggest rail modernisation programme since Victorian times, introducing the changes that passengers want to see - more frequent services and quicker, more comfortable journeys,” said rail minister Jo Johnson.
“While we have introduced real-time platform information, taken big strides on safety and improved how we manage our railways to accommodate more services on existing tracks, the pace of change can sometimes be slower than we would like to see.
“[The] funding is part of a wider programme of activities to speed up the delivery of new ideas and high-value innovations, which can have a big impact on passengers’ journeys.”
The funding was offered through a First of a Kind competition run by Innovate UK, part of the Department for Transport's scheme to improve the passenger experience on rail. You can see the full list of winners here.
Ian Meikle, director of infrastructure systems at Innovate UK, said: “The UK railway is carrying more and more passengers, and they rightly demand improvements to their journeys.
“What we are announcing today are tangible innovations, which each in their own way will make train travel better."