As part of a wider project, Arriva Rail North were keen to understand customer’s opinions of Manchester Piccadilly station, with a focus on the layout and quality of the information; both on platforms 13 and 14, which are separate to the main concourse, and in the satellite lounge above the platforms. Customers made it clear that they wanted up-to-the-minute live train information and an improvement of the information facilities at the station.

The previous Customer Information Screen (CIS) arrangements did provide train running information but it was presented by showing the expected time of arrival, rather than the actual time the train was going to arrive. Due to the mistrust surrounding this information some customers chose to ignore it and wait on the platform, causing overcrowding and potential health & safety issues.

This innovative concept required a first-of-its-kind solution to provide an uncomplicated, visual rail map displaying the location of trains in order of arrival, based on their distance from Manchester Piccadilly. Saturn’s software takes the location from the train’s onboard GPS system and tracks each train in an aesthetic and easy-to-understand way. As the trains move, the software tracks this movement and shows the trains making their way along the tracks towards the station, all displayed on 65” Samsung high-bright screens above the existing dot-matrix boards.

Additional screens guiding customers to their platforms improves pedestrian flow by offering dynamic way-finding information in conjunction with colourful triggers that act to influence customers in a positive way.

The solution has modified passenger behaviour by providing an airport-style call to the platform which limits the number of passengers going to the platforms, helping to alleviate crowding without the need for hard barriers or additional members of staff.

 “This unique system complements the wider improvement project being undertaken at Manchester Piccadilly and has improved pedestrian flows and the utilisation of the customer lounge considerably. This solution has influenced passenger behaviour in a positive manner, decreased the stress experienced during a journey and is removing passenger anxiety and frustration. This is a modern solution to a typical railway question regarding ‘where the trains are’ and has caused significant buzz in the rail industry and is being looked at by other train operators to be used in other stations in the UK”. Sam Woolley, Project Manager, Northern Rail

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