Published: 21 October 2015

Using data to improve train travel

Surrey academics have received funding to respond to the challenge of using data to improve the experience of rail travellers with special needs and/or disabilities.

Dr Helen Treharne, Head of the Computer Science Department, and Associate Dean (Research and Enterprise) Professor Steve Schneider will be working with Dr Caroline Scarles, from the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and with colleagues at the University of Southampton, Loughborough University and software specialists Pervasive Intelligence.

The project is funded by RRUKA (Rail Research UK Association) and ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies).

Improving the customer experience is one of the critical long-term challenges the industry faces. Rail must now more than ever offer a superior customer experience as a priority in order to make rail the preferred mode of transport for reliability, ease-of-use and perceived value.

The project will investigates how existing and new rail data sources can be used to enhance the passenger experience and to provide assistance to passengers with special needs and/or disabilities, for example those with limited mobility or vision impairment, particularly when unplanned disruption occurs.

Technical prototypes will be created that demonstrate how relevant transport data can be integrated to meet the needs of customers, how the location of passengers can be determined and used to provide benefit to them, and how security and privacy of personal data can be maintained.

Dr Scarles said: “The challenge in achieving the best customer service from this personalisation is to understand what information would be most valuable to passengers, when and how this is best conveyed and what privacy issues need to be overcome.”

The project results will be presented at the RRUKA Annual Conference in November 2016.

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