February 2, 2021

Mobile travel assistant to make public transport more accessible

In our research lab we are helping our clients to create the best passenger experience possible. Whether we're working on refurbishments or at the drawing board for a brand new build, we are always on the look-out for those things that "everyone needs, yet nobody wants to talk about".

This month's interview is with Research Lead Steven Lauwereins, who explains how train beacons make public transport more efficient and accessible.


Key takeaways: A navigation system on the train

  • Train beacons help to personalize passenger information.
  • People with reduced mobility can rely on a mobile travel assistant to get the right assistance.
  • The navigation system helps rail operating companies to anticipate events and to optimize fleet scheduling.

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Passenger information on a whole new level

Today's procedures to get the right assistance for public transport are often time-consuming and cumbersome. Imagine what a difference it would make if there was a mobile travel assistant which could proactively guide passengers and provide the right aids and assistance for a comfortable journey. Steven Lauwereins believes it is possible, and that is where Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons come into the picture.

Train beacons guide the way

In a new research project Steven Lauwereins and his team investigate how train beacons can significantly improve passengers' comfort and experience.

Train beacons are small radio transmitters that communicate via Bluetooth Low Energy. They locate passengers with high accuracy, and can trigger a specific action relevant to the location.

The amount of data you need to transfer to a visitor’s smartphone is extremely small, hence BLE compatible beacons do the job quickly without draining the battery.  

mobile travel assistant accessibility public transport beacons Passengers can easily check if they are on the right train, find their desired coach, their reserved seat, the toilets, or the bistro.

Offering personalized information is a way of showing passengers you care.

This may seem straightforward, but it is still vital.

Mobile travel assistant at your service

With this new technology rail operating companies can significantly expand their service offerings and reduce costs. The navigation system can guide passengers, provide push messages, present train topology and serve announcements for orientation. At the same time, the passenger flow analytics allow operators to optimize fleet scheduling and give insights on passenger flows.

Extra functionalities

  • Personalized passenger information (e.g. train loading, connections)
  • Wayfinding (e.g. seats, toilets, bistro)
  • Passenger flow analytics
  • Ticket control
  • Service calls
  • Luggage tracking

The research project brings together university research groups and industry players with different specializations. The aim is to create the first high resolution passenger localization system for rail vehicles.

The research project will conclude in 2024. The insights will be used for the passenger information solution.



mobile travel assistant accessibility public transport beacons Combined with an automatic passenger counting system, passengers are guided to a coach with vacant seats.

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