UK rail operator Northern has installed AI passenger detection technology on eight of its trains that will help it to improve operational efficiency and inform future scheduling. 

The company worked with Icomera and DG8 to install cameras and computers on its fleet of Class 769 trains that will more accurately detect the number of passengers on board using an Automatic Passenger Counting algorithm. 

Jack Commandeur, engineering director at Northern, said: “More than 90 million people step onboard one of our trains every year, and our fleet of Class 769 trains will now give us more accurate data on passenger volumes than we’ve ever had before.” 

The installation of the technology, said to be 98% accurate, was conducted at Allerton TrainCare Centre in northern England and saw 15 engineers install 88 cameras, eight computers, and 5km of cables. 

Part-funded by Rail North Partnership, the project is part of Northern’s ‘Plan Led Approach’ with work carried out alongside scheduled maintenance and heater upgrades to reduce the downtime for each train. 

Northern’s use of the technology continues the growth of AI in the rail industry, following on from other projects in the UK such as Network Rail’s deployment of software that scans footage from trains on the network to identify forgotten scrap material for removal

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Peter Kingsland, senior vice president of Icomera UK, said: “As the rail industry’s digital transition continues to accelerate, these applications can be combined with the passenger services we support to make every journey safer and more time-efficient for passengers, as well as more cost-effective for rail operators.”