Train operators increasingly embracing digital train of thought, says ADComms

Date: June 2015

More and more of the industry’s operators are turning to digital train retrofits in a bid to showcase the connected future of passenger transport, says ADComms.

Rail Order, part of ADComms, is seeing a rise in queries for key digital upgrades, including on-board Wi-Fi provision and USB charging sockets, in addition to its Beagle passenger information system. This comes as train operators seek to achieve high ratings across National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) scores.

The increase comes hot on the heels of David Cameron’s promise to roll out free Wi-Fi on trains from 2017, with a pledge to invest nearly £50m to ensure rail passengers are better connected, which is driving further investment across the sector.

These key digital upgrades include consideration of the following technologies:

On-board information provision
Providing up-to-date information throughout passenger journeys has never been more important for operators. Indeed, giving as much information as the passenger requires is a crucial public engagement tool that should not be overlooked.

In April 2014, a report issued by the Office of Rail Regulation highlighted growing dissatisfaction among customers with the quality of information provided about their journey. Current on-board information systems tend to show the destination but not arrival times. Nor do systems report on any expected delays - thus failing to meet customer demand for timely and accurate updates.

Beagle provides train operators with a dynamic solution to this heightened need for information. Using real-time data obtained from National Rail Enquiries’ Darwin system, Beagle is guaranteed to keep passengers updated across each leg of their journey. Utilising the latest in wireless technology to quickly transmit the data to on-board displays, the system provides operators with a reliable and cost-effective means of updating passengers on their journey’s status.

On-train Wi-Fi
With customer demand driving digital upgrades across the sector, the need for data connectivity is on the rise. Rail Order’s low-cost Wi-Fi solution can help TOCs and franchise bidders to easily fulfil the requirement for higher levels of connectivity on board – now ranked as one of the most important priorities for improvement by business commuters.

An option for both hardware and system installation, Rail Order’s solution can be easily integrated into existing train systems. Providing instant access to GSM-R coverage data over 3G and 4G networks, this service enhancement allows operators to make significant gains in their mandatory National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) scores - but at a fraction of the usual industry cost.

On-board USB charging
Passengers are increasingly expecting constant connectivity to their mobile devices. But with the battery power in our electronic devices struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing demands we place on them, passengers are obliged to carry around the old fashioned, bulky three-pin plug socket in order to stay fully charged on the move.

Rail Order’s compact and easy-to-install twin USB sockets provide the correct current to the charger socket to allow the plugged-in device to recognise it as a charger port.

Demand for journey digitisation is driving sector improvements
Digitisation is a key tool operators can use to ensure high NRPS scores are maintained, says Barry Larcombe, managing director of Rail Order.

“Customer demand for journey digitisation is driving improvements across the sector. Our upgrades will ensure passengers have a more comfortable, connected and informed experience on board – all provided at minimal cost and inconvenience to the operator – as well as offering an opportunity to build on their NRPS scores.”

Find out more about the key digital train upgrades available from ADComms and Rail Order.

For more information, please contact St John White or Natalia Gameson at Prova on 01926 776900.