Digital technology plays a decisive role in defining the passenger experience. Real-time video surveillance and emergency call points provide peace of mind, while reliable passenger information takes the guesswork out of travel by train. And passenger entertainment systems help to make journeys more enjoyable.
In short, onboard technology not only solves passengers’ biggest pain points, it also adds an element of fun – a key consideration as operators race to rebuild confidence in public transport.
But deploying new technology on trains can be a real challenge. First, where do you put everything? Space is valuable and each system typically needs its own computer hardware. Second, how do you integrate it all? This can be costly and complex where multiple systems are involved – and the more systems there are, the more expensive it is to maintain and upgrade everything.
On top of this, operators want easy ways to take advantage of new technologies – including video analytics, AI, 5G and cloud – without being held back by legacy systems onboard. How can all of this be achieved?
A powerful single-box solution:
To meet all of these needs, Thales has developed a fully-integrated onboard solution.
It’s like a Swiss army knife for trains. You can run, and add, any application you want. Everything runs on a single railway-certified computer and the solution is cybersecured from end to end. Here are some examples of the applications you can run:
Our onboard solution covers the full range of passenger information options – and adds some new ones as well. For example, links between GPS, PA systems and video displays – as well as train-to-wayside communications with the control centre – make it possible to automate passenger information and deliver it via multiple channels at the right time, in the right place. All of this is made possible by integration within the onboard solution.
Video surveillance, emergency call points and intercom can be integrated easily with our onboard solution. Coordination between different functions delivers extra benefits. For example, by coupling CCTV with train-to-wayside communications, it is possible to stream live onboard video to the control centre. This enables interactive assistance: when an alarm is raised via passenger intercom, control centre staff can see exactly what’s happening, and where.
Onboard video analytics
The real power of CCTV comes when it is coupled with video analytics. Onboard video content analysis, using artificial intelligence and existing CCTV cameras, allows operators to achieve multiple objectives. One of these is the ability to measure passenger density on the train in real time. This makes it possible to provide passengers waiting on stations with an advanced warning about which carriages are busy and which are not.
Video analytics can also be used for incident detection – including the detection of violent events. It can also be used to detect remaining luggage, and even whether there are still passengers onboard when the train reaches the end of the line.
Operators are increasingly looking to the in-flight entertainment (IFE) model used by the airline industry to deliver rich multimedia content to passengers. Our integrated onboard solution supports this because it can operate as a content delivery server, so operators can easily implement in-train entertainment.
A versatile train-to-ground radio unit ensures that the onboard computer remains synchronised with the control centre. Multiple standards are supported, including 5G, 4G/LTE, GSM-R, TETRA and Wi-Fi. The solution is designed to make it easy to integrate new communication standards, including the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS), the next-generation telecommunication system for digital railways.
A futureproof solution
The integrated onboard solution is designed to meet the needs of today. But just as important, it is designed to meet the needs of tomorrow as well. Software and hardware obsolescence can be managed easily, so the solution never goes out of date – no matter how long the train remains in service. And innovations such as “cloud on rails” will make it possible to manage applications remotely and deploy new services at the click of a mouse.