The sensor beacon technology being developed and trialled could eventually result in the removal of ticket barriers and signal an end to queues at the ticket machine.
Prototype technology is being tested which could use sensors on trains to detect an app on passengers’ smartphones as they board.
The technology being developed and trialled by Hitachi Rail could eventually result in the removal of ticket barriers and signal an end to queues at the barrier or ticket machine.
According to Hitachi Rail, passengers will be automatically charged the correct fare, and the company said it already has proven smart ticketing technology to ensure the passenger will not be overcharged.
The technology will undergo a rigorous testing programme for Trenito Transporti in Trento, Italy.
Hitachi said it hopes to bring it to the UK for use on buses, trams and trains.
“This technology has the ability to transform public transport in every corner of the country, from rural buses to city centre train stations. The common travelling woes of queues at ticket machines or trying to find the cheapest fare could be solved without even needing to reach for your pocket,” said Karen Boswell, managing director, Hitachi Rail.
“We are now beginning to test this technology and looking at the possibility of one app working across large stretches of a country. For example, a passenger could use the app to take a bus in their local town and a train elsewhere in the country all in one day.
Hitachi said it is exploring different ways of advancing smart ticketing through sensor beacon technology.
“This technology has the ability to transform public transport in every corner of the country, from rural buses to city centre train stations”
For example, one method could be sensors detecting a travel app installed on a smartphone, allowing a passenger to enter a train or bus without presenting either a paper ticket, bankcard or smart card.
The sensors could have potential to detect the smartphone in a passenger’s pocket or bag at both ends of the journey.
Large queues and bottlenecks around ticket barriers could be removed by installing smart sensors at the entrance to platforms or vehicles.
The technology can be applied to all forms of public transport, including buses and trams, allowing faster boarding times.
Results from the new proof of concept work in Italy will help inform the best ways to apply this technology in the future, said Hitachi.
“This technology could have potential to make public transport more accessible for all passengers,” added Boswell.
“We believe this would also be good news for operators, who can entice more people to use public transport thanks to this simple-to-use payment method.”
Hitachi has invested £100m in establishing a state-of-the-art train factory in the north east of England. By 2022, the company claims it will have 286 trains running in the UK, featuring advanced smart technology to improve performance and passenger experience.
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