Keeping trains on schedule during peak hour is a major challenge for rail operators, with crowds often causing trains to ‘dwell’ at stations for longer than usual. This can force delays and longer commutes, as well as reduce the number of trains running across the network.
The Rail Manufacturing CRC (RMCRC) has teamed up with the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and integrated services company Downer to solve this problem. They developed Dwell Track, a tool that combines 3D camera technology and algorithms to track the movement of passengers on rail platforms in real time.
Rail operators can use this data to manage crowds at peak times and keep schedules running smoothly.
It can also help them to make quicker decisions when managing busy platforms, such as increasing overhead announcements and providing signs that show passengers where to stand.
“Not only does Dwell Track have the potential to reduce travel time and delays for passengers, it could also increase the number of passengers served on the train network,” says Larry Jordan, Research Director at RMCRC.
The system, which was trialled at Wynyard Station in the city’s CBD, includes 16 camera devices, a mobile-based tool that shows captured camera data and dashboards that provide analytics summaries.
Hervé Harvard, director of UTS Rapido, a research unit that develops technology solutions for industry, says understanding the needs of rail operators was central to the project’s success.
“We wanted to understand how rail operators would use the product and design a solution that would actually meet their needs,” says Harvard. “It’s a very user-centred design as a result.”
— Gemma Conroy