Rethinking how we travel by train

Rethinking how we travel by train

Trains are an alternative transportation that allows you to discover the regions you are travelling like no other lets you. You can explore the beautiful scenery that you would otherwise completely miss. When we think of trains, we tend to think of old and antique, but trains are also innovating, here are some of the most innovative changes happening in the railway world.

1. Virtual Ticketing Agents

After having implemented virtual tickets, which has overtaken the paper ones in almost all modes of transportation, there seems to be a development on the agents themselves. There are plans of including an at station computer that will be a ticket office, vending machine and call center all in one. One of the advantages is that the railway companies could have a focused group of employees that could be stretched out across their network based on peak times of the day and year. On the other hand they could offer their services in a variety of languages and offer the customer the one-on-one experience combined with the speed of a ticket machine. Obviously, this would require having advancements in communication, as some stations are quite remote and would not yet be able to support this technology.

2. Li-Fi

Li-Fi, which is the next big thing coming up in mobile internet technology worldwide, is also working its way onto train, which are already equipped with Wi-Fi. Due to the fact that it works based on transmitting data with the spectrum of visible light, many believe it will reduce costs and increase efficiency to that of traditional Wi-Fi.

Li-Fi is also appealing to trains because since it doesn’t use radio frequencies there would be no risk to the operation of the trains or interference with the electronic circuits.

3. High Speed or hyper speed rails

High-speed trains are old news in places like California and the UK, but hyper speed trains are now creeping their way into railway future. This innovative way of transportation basically consists of an elevated, reduce-pressure tubes that allow a driver to move through the tubes with electric motors. Due to its design it’s said that it will never be able to crash, it will be four times faster than a bullet train, and even faster than an airplane. Even though is sounds like futuristic technology that you see in the movies, this is certainly on its way to becoming a reality.

4. Ergonomic station design

Architecture and futuristic designs will probably make their way into the railways as well. Ergonomic designs can improve the overall experience of the passengers allowing them to move freely through the station and be operational and comfortable not only on the train itself at the stations as well. The stations will also seem transformed as Smart Ticketing or even Virtual Agents take over.

5. Rail loyalty schemes

Although most other transportation services and hotels have already included membership loyalty schemes, this is something new on the rails. This could especially be interesting on those rails that offer more than one route. By accumulating points passengers could redeem everything from free train travel tickets to First Class lounges on future trips.

6. Passenger entertainment

Similar to airline entertainment, now train passengers can also have access to movies, music and other interesting activities to make your trip pleasant. This could either be in individual screens or on your own mobile device strategy which would simply have wireless options for you.

7. Digital Signage

This is true to be on the rise and trains will not be the exception. Train stations and the trains themselves will soon have digital signage, which will not only display the important information for the traveler, but will also display a variety of advertisements and videos.

8. 4g

Hopefully this new technology will bring more stability to the mobile service while on trains. Of course, this will also affect the quality with which online entertainment is offered, if it is in the Your Own Device model. There are many challenges on the way, but this might be something we soon see on trains.

9. Ticketless travel

This is already a reality in some transportation systems in the UK, where tickets for your travel are being replaced by your bank card. This is possible today thanks to EMV bank cards and PayTag stickers available on certain card. Although the future breakthrough will most likely not be in your bank card, but on your smartphone incorporating NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. This technology is already included on your smartphone, but is not used widely by product or service companies

Thinking ahead:

Dreaming of the future of trains, these are two extra ones.

10. Hyperloop

Travelling at 800 mph, Hyperloops trains now seem viable for future trains. Imagine being able to travel from L.A. to San Francisco in just 30 minutes, well it seems that now it’s not such an impossible task. At least as initial designs and concepts go, the Hyperloop could well be cheaper, quieter and some say even faster than the Maglev train.

11. Maglev trains

Image courtesy of Chris Hill on Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Chris Hill on Flickr.com

 

Magnetic Levitation or Maglev train is the other technological advancement that might soon be the next big thing. Even though some already exist in Shanghai and Japan, it is still considered to spread to other countries and replace many of the existing train railways. These trains can reach speeds of 310 mph, reduce accidents and air pollution, although there are still some financial concerns when development is the topic. Maglevs seem to be quite expensive to build, so who know what’s in store for these innovative trains.

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