I’ve always been a strong advocate for using connectivity to deliver great outcomes for the railway, so I found the recent WM5G announcement of three rail-themed projects in the £2.4m West Midlands 5G transport trials very reassuring. Hot on the heels of these awards, comes a second funding round focussed on finding practical demonstrator projects to improve road and rail operational efficiency, providing better-connected transport or improving the experience for travellers.
I know the value of getting technology into the hands of users (allowing them to see the potential value and feedback meaning you can make it even better), and this funding round seems a great opportunity for industry and for the people of the West Midlands.
One use-case in particular, caught my eye; Public transport recovery and traveller confidence post COVID. The rail industry has rapidly evolved its offering to best serve both the needs and safety of key workers in ever-changing circumstances. Although a return to pre-COVID passenger numbers seems unlikely in the near-term, industry must continue planning for how passenger journeys may need to change over the coming months. For example, cities like Birmingham are likely to remain different to their pre-pandemic state, as will passengers’ experience.
The funding call from WM5G has the potential to drive change in the use of both data and mobile connectivity to deliver for travellers. For the foreseeable future, change is likely to be the new routine. Many more public transport users, less able to rely-on learned work-arounds for travel challenges, will need the best of 5G, artificial intelligence and machine learning, to keep them safe and moving.
If you’ve got the start of an idea, there will be other UK5G members keen to work with you to develop it into a bid. WM5G are also offering useful consultation sessions to test that emerging proposals have strong alignment and a better chance of success. Please think wide and novel to get the best for rail, for passengers and for freight users. If I can help with comments and guidance, I’m here for you, as are my rail industry colleagues.
Chair - Future Communications and Positioning Systems Advisory Group
If you'd like to subscribe to UK5G emails, please ensure you have updated your marketing preferences via your UK5G members dashboard.