For Nederlandse Spoorwegen, improving passenger satisfaction has always been a top priority. In order to stay true to their mission, they realised that they had to enhance customer service during boarding. It was this motivator that started the Real-Time Occupancy Project, of which INFODEV EDI was proud to be a central part.
The resulting solution is now widely installed for operators demanding immediate ridership information and links to Passenger Information Systems and Apps.
In the past, NS used to get the information they needed about the number of passengers through a mix of manual counting and data on ticket sales. It wasn’t reliable or accurate enough to know exactly how many people were boarding and alighting and, most of all, where exactly they were boarding the train. In regard to this situation, the challenge NS wanted to overcome was to be able to let the passengers know in real time where they should stand to enter the right train compartment. Whether they wanted to be sitting or standing, even if they had a bicycle, a wheelchair or a first-class pass.
NS and INFODEV EDI’s solution was unique because of how detailed the seat occupancy at compartment level was and because this was also communicated in real time to passengers and railway management alike. To put this solution in motion, NS first studied several options to measure the occupancy aboard their trains. They considered measuring the weight of the passengers, tracking them through Wi-Fi usage, using electronic checking gates, monitoring seats, using other counting devices, but through all of these solutions the occupancy figures remained an estimate. NS eventually chose to install INFODEV EDI’s sensors at every door of the trains and between each compartment of the trains.
INFODEV EDI’s turnkey solution allowed NS to obtain a precise measurement of their standing and seating occupancy aboard train compartments. With 11 high-capacity trains equipped, covering the trip from Roosendaal to Zwolle, over 270 sensors were installed. Furthermore, 800 passengers got the specially designed apps on their mobile, which showed a virtual representation of the train. The occupancy rate was shown using a colour-coded space occupancy information. A large, impressive LED display was also installed at one station, providing useful information to passengers in real time regarding which train compartment to board. Special information was also shown for people in wheelchairs and with bicycles. A system using multiple colors was used to convey the level of car occupancy and special entrances. INFODEV EDI’s solution also provided accuracy validation tools and real-time communication with the onboard management system.
The Future of Passenger Counting
INFODEV EDI’s Automatic Passenger Counting solution made it possible for our client to try a new and innovative way to improve their customer service and, thus, to conquer one of the challenges brought by the sphere of transportation. A smartphone app and LED displays are only two of the many applications regarding occupancy data. The data acquired through INFODEV EDI’s APC systems not only provided insightful counting information, but were also an important innovation factor within the railway industry. For example, the Regional Control Centre Rail in Rotterdam made use of various internal applications through this counting data, such as timetable planning and better management of service disruptions. In short, INFODEV EDI’s APC solution provides valuable information upon which investment, revenue protection, service or timetabling decisions can be made.
UK Train Operators Choose Infodev
In the UK alone Infodev EDI equipment is fitted to train classes 142, 144, 150, 153, 155, 156, 158, 165, 168, 170, 185, 220, 221, 222, 230, 315, 321, 322, 323, 333, 442 and HST. Further projects are in progress now.