Rail Passenger Footfall Analytics

Article date : Thu 02 July 2020


Real-time analytics developed with support from InnovateUK

London Overground train

An innovative data analytics technology helps train operating companies with useful insights on passenger footfall – improving operational efficiency and creating better passenger journeys.

The technology developed by London-based BlockDox includes the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence to reliably record passenger footfall on trains in real-time. This novel passenger counting system combines a patented method using unique sensors and algorithms to assess and predict rail passenger counts for trains and their carriages.

BlockDox’s cloud-based analytics dashboard and API enables faster decision-making and intelligent intervention to reduce overcrowding and the issues associated with it, such as capacity management, delays, customer satisfaction and safety. The dashboard allows our clients to see the carriage usage in real time, in more granular detail, and to access predictive analytics, enabling end users to be proactive instead of reactive.

Major brand train operating company

The technology was demonstrated with a major brand train operating company (TOC) whose service included a daily intercity mainline train service travelling between three major cities (to/from London). Their primary challenge - to obtain a precise and reliable measurement of real-time passenger demand - was difficult based on current techniques.

Without the passenger count the TOC could not address capacity management and the associated impacts, for example:

  • Overcrowding
  • Timetables and resourcing
  • Better planning of both day-to-day and longer-term maintenance schedules
  • Train buyers and manufacturers designing new trains.

The Project

Alongside the funding support from InnovateUK, the 15-month project was conducted with the support of rail industry stakeholders to investigate and prove that our innovative solution can be used to continuously, economically and reliably monitor train footfall at carriage level.

The technology was installed on the client’s train (3 sensors in a carriage) which ran daily services to/from London, for approximately 3 months. With the use of BlockDox’s innovative sensor technology, data was collected anonymously and passively. The client dashboard displayed in real-time the passenger count for the carriage, and the system included integration with other train-related data for giving real-time and predictive insights on passenger numbers.

The Opportunity

By counting passengers on trains in real-time, our innovation removes the need for labour intensive manual counting which can only measure a moment in time or reference to other unreliable solutions such as train weight data. The data can be integrated with existing systems providing a highly interoperable solution, and utilised as predictive passenger footfall data for planning, maintenance and other key operations.

The Benefits

  • Targeting service delivery with real-time passenger demand
  • Better capacity and route planning
  • Limiting disruption, congestion and improved resourcing
  • Improved health and safety
  • Improved customer satisfaction from passengers through better journeys