The British public are very experienced at complaining about the rail service, decrying delays and dilapidated carriages. However, that will be set to change thanks to an injection of funding that may see rail journeys transformed.
The Department of Transport and Innovate UK are offering £3.6, in funding for innovative rail projects, such as adaptable carriages that make travel easier for disabled passengers, or augmented reality (AR) experiences.
The aim is to improve the experience for rail passengers in the UK. The projects include a design for trains that allows for an increased number of seats at peak hours, carriages that can quickly switch from passengers to goods trains and beacons that can assist visually impaired people when navigating through stations and to their seats.
Other ideas included an AR application which utilises Google Cardboard or a smartphone to highlight landmarks to passengers as they pass close to them, pointing out such historical areas as the locations of Viking villages near York, or more fanciful creations such as a stampede of zebras wearing Newcastle United shirts near Newcastle.
“The railway is carrying more and more passengers, and they rightly demand improvements to their journeys,” said Ian Meikle, director of infrastructure systems at Innovate UK. “What we are announcing today are tangible innovations, which each in their own way will make train travel better.”
Rail minister Jo Johnson said: “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,” he said. “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.”
For further news on new and innovative VR and AR applications, keep an eye on VRFocus.