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UK’s first real-time on-board train information screens launch on First Hull Trains

Passengers travelling with First Hull Trains will now have access to on-board information screens fed by live real-time train running information thanks to the launch of a new trial that could help pave the way for the development of a wider roll-out across other operators.

The UK’s very first real time on-board information system uses the National Rail Enquiries’ live train running information known as ‘Darwin’, which takes in a number of industry data feeds and uses these to predict arrival and departure times. The rail industry now makes this information freely available to developers and has been taken forward by KeTech Systems to produce the new on-board screens.

The system uses Darwin’s predictions along with additional data sources to provide a variety of on-screen information. The real-time communications for the new system is provided via the fleet-wide Icomera on-board internet solution.

In addition to current train running information, passengers will be shown supplementary information via new on-board High Definition colour display screens including departure boards when approaching interchange stations, underground status updates and even the weather at their destination.

 Throughout the journey, passengers will be given up-to-date information about stopping patterns, expected arrival times, delays and delay reasons. There will also be access to Live Departure Board information at the next station (for planning onward journeys).

First Hull Trains is the host for the project as the company was eager to further improve its on-board passenger information.

Passengers were interviewed before the trial to understand their requirements and will be interviewed as the trial progresses. The results will then be fed into the build of the production system that could be rolled out more widely across other routes.

 The trial project is a collaborative scheme involving various partners including First Hull Trains, ATOC, Angel Trains, Alstom, KeTech and Icomera.

Their input has ensured a system design which is fit for purpose – delivering reliable and up to date information to rail passengers throughout their journey. A number of additional features are already in development.

Free access to Darwin has been granted to public bodies, including Transport for London, Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) and local authorities, regardless of how many requests for information their customers make.

By making it easier for people and organisations to use live train-running information from National Rail Enquiries, the rail industry hopes to help ensure that more passengers consistently get the highest quality information about their services.

Over the last decade, train companies and Network Rail have put into the public domain an ever-increasing range of information and data, making Britain’s railway one of the most transparent in Europe.

KeTech’s Principal Technical Consultant Mike Dixon says: “Key advantages of the system are its ease of installation and efficient architecture, which is based upon KeTech’s highly successful CIS products.”

Alstom Transport is the original manufacturer of the Class 180 Trains. Sean Graham, Projects Director at Alstom Transport says: “As the original manufacturer of the Class 180 Trains, we provided the vehicles integration design and installation to support First Hull Trains to bring a new experience for the customers of their services.

“We’re very pleased to be involved in this Digital Technology launch and as a major provider of services to the rail industry, we are keen to develop a broad range of new products to help modernise existing rolling stock and, where we do not have the expertise, to work with suppliers and our partners to find the best solution.”

Angel Trains are another major partner in the project to deliver the new system. Andrew Hicks, Fleet Engineer at Angel Trains says: “Angel Trains is excited to be launching this initiative in partnership with Hull Trains, Ketech and Alstom.

“The new on-board train information screens will provide real time travel information to passengers to improve their travel experience.  This innovative system is testament to our partnership successfully moving forward with technology for the good of the passenger.”

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