Comms Design has been awarded a UK Government grant to develop an innovative digital signalling system to enhance passenger experience and optimise train operations on rural and low-density rail routes.
The National Request to Stop (NRS), designed to utilise existing communications bearers, will deliver performance, safety and sustainability benefits.
NRS will enable passengers to request a train to stop using an on-platform display system that sends a signal directly to the driver of the inbound train, notifying them that a passenger is waiting to board.
An on-train alert notifies crew of any passengers waiting to board at the next scheduled station on route, or if the station is vacant the train can proceed at line speed.
The solution provides significant timetable resilience, efficiency and passenger safety improvements versus the current manual system, removing the need for a train to slow down and then accelerate where there are no passengers waiting, delivering significant fuel consumption, emissions and brake wear benefits.
Rob Illsley, Managing Director, Comms Design said:
“We are pleased that Comms Design’s digital signalling and communication technology has been identified by the UK Government as an enabler to improved rail operations and customer experience for UK rail passengers.
“We are excited about the potential for this product and look forward to working with Transport for Wales on the development of a system that marks a significant step forward in enhancing strategic rural rail services across the United Kingdom.
“At Comms Design we are focused on enhancing the efficiency and reliability of rail services in rural areas and continue to develop digital solutions that pave the way for safety, performance and customer experience improvements on rural and light-railway networks.
“The development of this system, sponsored by Transport for Wales, is not only a pivotal advancement for the UK’s rural rail network but sets a precedent for similar innovations and the application of digital signalling solutions on rural rail systems worldwide.”
Funding for the grant funding project that runs until September was awarded as part of The Department for Transport (DfT) and Innovate UK First of Kind (FOAK) competition. FOAK has been delivered in partnership with Innovate UK KTN to help bring novel technologies to the rail market.
Successful bidders partner with rail industry bodies (Comms Design and Transport for Wales) to develop and test products that can be developed for wider industry application.
Mike Biddle, Executive Director for Net Zero at Innovate UK said:
“The innovations receiving support through this competition are set to foster a more accessible, inclusive railway system within the UK and to develop demonstrators that offer innovations in customer experience, reliable and maintainable assets, optimised train operations and high speed rail system installations.”