TPE launches enhancements to make rail travel more accessible

UK: TransPennine Express has introduced the GoodMaps app, which guides blind and other users around stations to help them find features such as platforms, toilets, ticket offices and coffee shops.

Goodmap screenshot from a TransPennine Express station (1)

The app uses LIDAR and image recognition data, and does not require fixed infrastructure such as Bluetooth beacons inside a building.

‘Having experienced public transport when sighted, then later in life as a blind person, my perspective has changed as a disabled commuter wanting to retain my independence’, explained Neil Barnfather, Vice-President Europe at GoodMaps.

‘Stations are busy, complicated and often extremely challenging to navigate. GoodMaps provides me with reassurance and a sense of confidence I’ve not felt since navigating stations as a sighted commuter.

Goodmap screenshot taken from a TransPennine Express station (2)

‘Whilst the technology enhances the travelling experience for all passengers, the solution is an absolute revolution to those with disabilities, for whom accessing public transport autonomously is often cumbersome and lacking in true independence.’

Barnfather said ‘we look forward to continuing the partnership across the broader rail network, and delivering additional features to the existing implementation over the coming months.’

In a further accessibility initiative, TPE passenger assistance services can now be booked by WhatsApp seven days a week between 06.00 and 23.00.

The operator has also set up a Facebook group to build an online community where customers can connect, share ideas and provide feedback on accessibility.