The augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) market has grown exponentially in the past few years due to increasing demand in nearly all industries. With an expected revenue growth rate of 13.72% in 2023 and a projected market volume of US$52.05bn by 2027 (Source – Statista), it is one of the fastest-growing and most promising areas of technology today. The biggest reason for increase in demand for AR and VR tools and software is their innovative applications in nearly every industry. And one such industry heavily investing in AR and VR that has already started enjoying its benefits, is the rail industry.

Application Of AR & VR In The Rail Industry

The primary use case for augmented and virtual reality in the rail industry is to introduce an immersive, three-dimensional approach to some crucial segments like training, maintenance, repair, and inspection. Despite their importance, these areas are often not considered when implementing new technology. However, the stakeholders are now realising the potential of using AR and VR to improve the way these vital segments of the rail industry function. Below we discuss a few ways this technology is transforming the rail experience for both, operators and passengers. 

Use Cases For Operators

  • Maintenance & Management 

The maintenance of railway stations requires considerable time, cost, skill, and manpower, many of which are not always available. Augmented reality can prove very useful in updating and controlling the status and condition of the tracks and the train-infrastructure communication systems. It can also be used with other technology like artificial intelligence and sensors for detecting obstacles and predictive maintenance of the tracks and infrastructure, and save the operator time and cost.

  • Passenger Footfall Management

More and more operators worldwide are using augmented reality to manage the footfall of passengers at railway stations. Operators often have a hard time managing the heavy footfall of passengers, leading to chaotic situations at peak times. Augmented reality and virtual reality can be used for detecting and mapping the flow of travellers in the busiest areas and manage it remotely from a control room. The same technology, along with facial recognition, can also be used for security checks at important checkpoints across the railway station.

  • Staff Training

Another vital area where AR and VR are making a difference is staff training. Unlike the previous traditional methods of training, augmented reality offers a more dynamic and engaging way of learning and training with step-by-step visual guides. It has also made it possible for operators to offer remote training across all stations within their network, making it easier and more cost-effective to train multiple staff at the same time. 

Use Cases For Passengers

One of the best applications of AR and VR at railway stations for passengers is indoor wayfinding. AR is extensively being used by operators to offer wayfinding services to passengers before and during their visit to the railway station, including the rest of the journey till they leave the station. From entertainment services, and food and other retail shops, to information kiosks and help desks, AR can help passengers locate all the crucial places at railway stations and save them time and prevent stress. Moreover, AR apps are not as costly as large, physical display boards, again helping operators save substantial money. 

  • Engagement & Entertainment

Train journeys are often long and tiring. Operators can take advantage of this to offer them fun and engaging features such as simulation of outside panorama, shopping, and other entertainment based on AR and VR which can enhance their travel experience, both at the station and in the train. It can also help create an additional stream of revenue for the operators who can benefit from more passengers shopping while using the AR app.

Augmented reality software has proven to be a boon for the rail industry. It not only offers the operators to improve the design and safety of the infrastructure and better manage and maintain the tracks, but also allows them to offer a better customer experience to the passengers, thereby increasing their sales and reputation. 

Briteyellow is one of the leading smart spaces tech companies based in Milton Keynes that develops innovative hardware and software based on AR and VR for indoor location services. Contact us at 0845 557 0520 or 01234 331806 or email us at [email protected] to learn more about our solutions.