We are now almost three years removed from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and, like all industries, its impact on transportation is still being felt. In rail, there are positive indicators that commuters and travelers alike are getting back on the train. Amtrak recently reported ridership growth of 89% in 2022 compared to 2021 and ridership levels have reached 70% of pre-pandemic levels in the United States and 90% in the United Kingdom.
As ridership inches toward pre-pandemic levels, rail operators need to continue evolving their operations while searching for new ways to attract passengers and adapt to new transit behaviors.
From nice-to-have to must-have
The increase in hybrid work has caused foundational shifts in travel patterns and revenue generation models. Even with the infusion of needed infrastructure funding, it is critical for transportation agencies to ensure the long-term financial viability of their networks. Building a safe and modern passenger experience is essential.
Internet connectivity for passengers used to be a nice-to-have. But in today’s hybrid work environment, it has turned into a must-have. As workers travel from home offices to customer visits to the corporate office, the connectivity experience must be reliable – whether jumping on a Webex meeting or catching up on email. Business travelers choose how to move around their city based on when and where they can be connected. Reliable connectivity also enables enhanced passenger features such as interactive kiosks, wayfinding, and Real-time Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) communications making the experience frictionless and reliable.
Safety concerns must also be considered as operators need to be able to dynamically address potential incidents to improve overall safety and comfort for travelers. Automated video monitoring of train and station surveillance and video incident capture from on-board cameras are a few ways operators are gaining visibility into the passengers’ environment. These solutions not only make passengers feel more secure during their experience, but also provide transit authorities with improved operational awareness.
Seamless, secure connectivity
Ensuring seamless, secure connectivity, from the station to the train, is foundational for creating a modern passenger experience and developing new revenue services. As a global leader in data, networking, and security, Cisco’s Connected Rail solutions provide the network foundation for improving the safety, efficiency, and service levels of rail operations.
Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) provide design and implementation guides for critical portions of the rail architecture. Rail operators and Cisco solution partners use the CVDs as a secure foundation on which to build their solutions for passenger services, video surveillance and analytics, operations, maintenance, and signaling and control.
The Cisco Connected Station architecture supports innovative services for passengers, helps deliver safety and security for workers and passengers within a station, simplifies operations, and provides station staff with more efficient communications.
Cisco’s Connected Train solution provides a multi-service network foundation, converging the capabilities from multiple proprietary networks in train cars onto a common IP network. The solution provides a resilient infrastructure capable of supporting numerous services and use cases, including improved passenger experience.
A modern, safe, secure, and improved passenger experience can be achievable if leaders make the right investments. In many cases, multiple business outcomes can be delivered with a common architecture. As critical use cases are rolled out, Cisco can help ensure reliable connectivity and end to end security at every level of architecture. It is an exciting time as transportation organizations are building the future of mobility and Cisco is proud to be working with transportation agencies globally to be the bridge between new transit digital infrastructure and an improved passenger experience.
Find out more about how Cisco helps transportation operators and explore Cisco’s portfolio for transportation to see the use cases and architectures that are making a difference in transportation today.
It’s encouraging to see that ridership is starting to return to pre-pandemic levels as we continue to move further away from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the increase in hybrid work and changes to travel patterns, it’s more important than ever for rail operators to adapt and find new ways to attract passengers. One aspect that stands out in this post is the emphasis on the importance of internet connectivity for passengers. It has gone from being a nice-to-have to a must-have in today’s world, where people are constantly connected and rely on it for work and entertainment. The idea of reliable connectivity enabling enhanced passenger features such as interactive kiosks and real-time estimated time of arrival communications is particularly intriguing. It not only improves the passenger experience but also makes the process more efficient and less frustrating. The emphasis on safety concerns is also noteworthy and it’s great to see how operators are using technology to address potential incidents and improve overall safety and comfort for travelers. Overall, this post highlights the need for rail operators to continuously evolve their operations and invest in technology to meet the needs of today’s travelers.
We see first hand the great work that Cisco do in this sector and it would be great to show the online safety aspect of protecting passengers online from exposure to indecent material. I would love to share how in partnership with the Govt initiated Friendly WiFi standard that this can be achieved and Cisco can become innovators in including this standard as part of their service. It works well and fits the seamless connectivity from train to station – the one aim of keeping passengers, especially children safe online whilst using the WiFi service.
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