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Author Topic: Railway station ticket barriers could be replaced by sensors...  (Read 511 times)
the void
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« on: August 12, 2019, 06:15:17 am »

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/08/11/railway-station-ticket-barriers-could-replaced-sensors-detect/

"The desperate scrabble for your ticket while running for a train could be a thing of the past, a manufacturer has claimed, with sensors potentially replacing ticket barriers which detect when passengers board trains.

Train-builder Hitachi Rail is developing technology designed to ensure travellers are automatically charged the correct fare by recognising their smartphones at both ends of their journey.

The firm is testing the system in northern Italy and believes it could be used on trains, buses and trams in the UK."

This being the same Hitachi who can't figure out how to get seat reservations working properly...
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eXPassenger
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« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2019, 09:51:07 am »

So I travel with my phone turned off.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2019, 11:30:25 am »

Sounds like a sort of super-Oyster. If it worked, one app to calculate the best fare across all modes, held on a device 90% of passengers have already, could be massively convenient. The normal caveats about data protection, tracking and surveillance, fraud and hacking, and of course knowing how much you're being charged, all apply. As does the one about multiple operators working together.
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stuving
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« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2019, 12:24:55 pm »

This is hardly new - even if, like a lot of ideas, it hasn't made much progress towards real-world use. Railways, in particular, are hardly famous as early adopters of anything.

I remember hearing about the underlying idea - detecting from their gizmos who is inside a defined volume with doors, like a bus - more than ten years ago. It was (in probably still is) called BeIn/BeOut, or BIBO (though that name is commonest in Germany). See for example, this paper from 2008 produced by a European group of transport operators including TfL of a "Study on electronic ticketing in public transport".  It includes the option of:
Quote
Be-in/be-out (BIBO) systems detect the user devices carried by passengers while the vehicle is moving from one station to the next, thus allowing to register all passengers that are actually on board at that time.

The hardest bit is likely to be detecting people without gizmos!
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stuving
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« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2019, 03:25:56 pm »

This is the Hitachi press release:
Quote
Ticket barriers could be removed with new technology being developed and trialled by Hitachi Rail.

Prototype technology currently being tested could use sensors on trains to detect an app on passengers’ smartphones as they board.

There would be no need to remove the phone from pockets or bags and no need for station barriers, signalling an end to queues at the barrier or ticket machine.

Passengers will be automatically charged the correct fare, and Hitachi already has proven smart ticketing technology to ensure the passenger will not be overcharged.

The technology will now undergo a rigorous testing programme for Trenito Transporti in Trento, Italy, with Hitachi hoping to bring it to the UK for use on buses, trams and trains.
...

They are pushing two or three things as their capabilities:
  • Ticketless (or virtual ticket) travel - which is not new
  • Oyster-type charging after the event (or trip) - again not new (Oyster, and Hitachi's Tokyo system)
  • The BIBO interface from a "beacon" to the phone in your pocket

The third part is what they are trialling in Italy. Trentino Trasporti already have QR scanners as part of their "MTT" ticketing system, so Hitachi are just adding scan-at-a-distance (to see if it works). They will be selling MTT tickets, not trying to Oysterise MTT just for this trial.

For some reason, both the Telegraph and the IET (whose version I got just now) leave out or garble this sentence: "Prototype technology currently being tested could use sensors on trains to detect an app on passengers’ smartphones as they board.".

They are also trying claim simpler fares as a benefit - though that's really a precondition of Oysterisation, and even then only provided you believe that Oyster charging rules are simple!
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2019, 04:50:17 pm »

Yes, the UK press seem to have become fixated on the ticket barriers and their possible removal. Some railway systems don't have such barriers even at the largest stations, relying on checks on the trains, and of course very few if any buses have them. I've no idea about Italy though.

Putting the sensors in trains and buses and trams and so on, rather than using them to replace station gatelines, also means you can differentially charge for the same origin and destination pair; the sensors will know if you've taken a slow or fast train, sat in 1st class, etc. And, subject to making sensors available, they could also be used to integrate other forms of transport, such as hire bikes at stations, (in future) self-driving cars or even, right now, taxis.
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Adrian
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« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2019, 08:18:11 pm »

Surely that would be the end of being able to take advantage of split ticketing?  And not knowing how much a journey actually cost you until you see your bank statement sometime later??  In urban areas with zonal fare structures it could work well, but until the thousands of fare anomalies are fixes across the wider rail network I fear a lot of people would feel they were getting ripped off by such a system.
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ellendune
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2019, 08:36:06 pm »

Surely that would be the end of being able to take advantage of split ticketing?  And not knowing how much a journey actually cost you until you see your bank statement sometime later??  In urban areas with zonal fare structures it could work well, but until the thousands of fare anomalies are fixes across the wider rail network I fear a lot of people would feel they were getting ripped off by such a system.

That is one of the biggest arguments from the TOCs' point of view have for simplifying the fare system.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2019, 08:41:33 pm »

Quote from: Adrian
Surely that would be the end of being able to take advantage of split ticketing?  And not knowing how much a journey actually cost you until you see your bank statement sometime later??  In urban areas with zonal fare structures it could work well, but until the thousands of fare anomalies are fixes across the wider rail network I fear a lot of people would feel they were getting ripped off by such a system.

Split ticketing could still work, but someone embarking upon it would presumably have to change trains, and check out and check back in at the splitting station. People might not be interested if they were only saving a £ or two, but it would certainly still be worthwhile at places like Didcot where a split can potentially save quite substantial sums of money.

It would also probably be welcomed by the people who sell tea and coffee at Didcot  Grin

A bigger issue to me at least is the need for a smart phone and presumably an app to make the system work. I do not consider myself a Luddite by any means (though others may differ...) but I only use my mobile phone to make and receive calls. I don't even use it for texts, let alone have the wi-fi connected. Indeed it spends more time switched off than it does switched on.

Whilst I accept that I am probably in a minority in this day and age (although I doubt whether that statement could be proven one way or the other), there will certainly be many others who feel no need for an expensive "smart phone" and have no intention of getting one. Is the railway really going to turn away their business for that reason alone any time soon?
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johnneyw
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2019, 09:13:55 pm »

I'm not one for ticket apps either, especially if there is any danger of a flat battery at a bad time scenario (not all trains have charging available/working) and sometimes I don't like to carry extra clutter like a charger with me.
There's also the issue of the freedom to travel without being forced to into the expense of both a smartphone and the monthly cost (which is significant).
Having both ticket and apps seems to be essential for the foreseeable future. Could you however, when collecting pre paid cards from the station, have the "ticket" added to an oyster type card instead?
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ellendune
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2019, 09:18:50 pm »

A bigger issue to me at least is the need for a smart phone and presumably an app to make the system work. I do not consider myself a Luddite by any means (though others may differ...) but I only use my mobile phone to make and receive calls. I don't even use it for texts, let alone have the wi-fi connected. Indeed it spends more time switched off than it does switched on.

The system that works so well in London seems not to require a mobile phone to tap in and out.  It uses a shellfish or a credit card. 
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2019, 10:03:14 pm »

Yes, but the system being trialled in Italy requires neither cards nor tapping in and out. It uses sensors to detect the presence of a mobile device within a closed space (a train carriage or bus, could presumably also be used in a room). Therefore it doesn't require people to understand or comply with a system. If they're there, that's enough.

As for prevalence of smart phones: I work in a shop (that's a gross exaggeration: I do one shift a week in a charity bookshop) whose customers are not necessarily the peak early adopters. About 1/3 of customers pay by cash, most of the remainder use contactless, a very few still use chip and pin but I'd estimate 1 in 5 use their phone to pay. Of course those are (usually) only small amounts. What's interesting is that although most of the phone-payers are in their 20s or early 30s, it's also quite popular among those in their 60s or 70s. Usage seems to fall off between those ends of the age curve.
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1st fan
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« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2019, 03:50:48 pm »

Wouldn't work for me as there's no way I'm having any app on my phone that can deduct money from me. What happens if I'm walking from the circle/district line to the Hammersmith & City and pass a mainline train? Do I get charged or will the system know I'm not travelling?
« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 03:56:59 pm by 1st fan » Logged
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