UK-based train operating company Northern has announced that a new ‘Serious Game’ virtual reality (VR) simulation is currently being developed for the benefit of disabled passengers.

The technology will enable users to explore their journey and interact with station and on-board staff in a realistic simulated environment on their mobile phones, tablets and other devices.

The simulation will help the disabled passengers to familiarise themselves with different accessibility needs and journey situations and help them to build confidence before their actual journey.

This simulation has been developed by Chrome Angel Solutions and digital technology experts Totem Learning in collaboration with Angel Trains, Community Rail Lancashire, and Northern.

The project obtained financial support from the Department for Transport’s Accessibility Transport Research and Innovation Grants (TRIG: Accessibility) programme.

The first demonstrator prototype is currently being tested with a group of volunteers from Northern Accessibility User Group (NAUG) and Community Rail Lancashire.

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This user group has been part of the project throughout the development of the simulation.

NAUG, an independent pan-disability railway user group, makes recommendations on accessibility improvements across Northern’s services.

Northern commercial and customer director Mark Powles said: “Our customers are the heart of everything we do, and we are dedicated to making Northern’s services accessible to everyone, and to having a positive impact for the north.

“This technology is the first of its kind and has been developed alongside the independent Northern Accessibility User Group (NAUG) and supported by Northern, to empower people to use public transport, no matter their circumstances.”

In May this year, UK-based tech firm Transreport, in association with Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and the wider rail industry, developed a new app to offer support to disabled commuters for their rail journeys.