UK rail eyes biometric ticketing, other tech advancements
A British rail industry watchdog has set out a blueprint detailing technological advancements including biometric ticketing, new seat designs, and smarter trains.
LONDON — One of Britain’s biggest rail watchdogs has laid out plans for the future of train travel, opting for more tech to make commuting easy and fuss-free.
Passengers may soon be able to open ticket gates using an app and Bluetooth signals on their smartphones. The lack of physical contact with the gate helps reduce delays and gets more people through during busier times, according to a press release by the Rail Delivery Group.
Chiltern Railways are set to begin smartphone ticket trials this year, on a new route between Oxford Parkway and London Marylebone stations.
Eventually, the smartphone option could be replaced by biometrics, with fingerprint and iris scans identifying passengers and charging tickets directly to their travel accounts.
New seat designs are also in the works for train carriages. One type provides staggered seating for more shoulder space, and allows 20 to 30 percent more seats per carriage.
Another design has traditional seating that can be converted to a different configuration during peak times, with tables that unfold into seats for added capacity.
Both could be built into existing trains within a year.
The UK rail system will also develop self-regulating trains that can communicate with each other to avoid conflicts at junctions, to allow for more frequent services and fewer delays.
Some £450 million has also been invested to test the new signalling technology for the intelligent trains.
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