Wednesday 23 September 2020

UIC chairs IRITS webinar on creating a healthy environment for rail passengers

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Railway operators and companies developing leading-edge technology came together at the webinar ‘Providing a healthy environment for rail passengers’ on Friday 18 September. The webinar was produced by the International Railway Summit in association with Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), and sponsored by Industrial IoT experts Advantech.

The webinar was moderated by Marc Guigon, UIC’s Passenger Director, Coordinator Latin America & Coordinator Covid-19 Taskforce. Mr Guigon explained how UIC is helping the sector to demonstrate “RAILsilience” by publishing guidelines and sharing best practice.

Speakers from around the world described the impact of Covid-19 on services. Yasunari Nakajima, Director Paris Office, East Japan Railway Company (JR East), said that between February and June 2020 the company had lost €3bn in ridership fares. Olivier Waeber, Leader in Innovation and Technology Management at SBB, said that at the start of the crisis passenger numbers were at only 10% of original levels, returning now to 80%.

Throughout the debate a wide array of solutions were discussed, including intensive cleaning, anti-bacterial surfaces, ventilation, managing passenger flow, and contactless ticketing.

Stéphane Feray Beaumont, VP Innovation & Smart Mobility, Alstom, emphasised the importance of adapting digital technologies to our new physical realities. “The virus is not a digital virus,” he said. JR East’s mobile application provides passengers with real-time information on congested lines, trains, and stations. Meanwhile, Dr Waeber described the mobile technologies being developed by SBB for customer guidance, occupancy visualisation and self check-in.

Maurice van der Aa, Senior Product Sales Manager & Solution Architect Intelligent Systems at Advantech, shared footage of how AI-enabled cameras can monitor social distance, detect faces, and identify whether people are wearing masks.

Inspiring passenger confidence is as much about effective communication of the measures being taken as the measures themselves. “Less anxious people are more likely to use your transport”, said Mr Guigon.

While the rail community reacts in the short term, the speakers made clear that we must pursue the long-term social trends suspended by the pandemic to boost economic recovery today, but also to combat climate change and improve quality of life for tomorrow.

The webinar ‘Providing a healthy environment for rail passengers’ is available to watch on demand at It is the first in the four-part series ‘The power of digital to inspire rail passenger confidence’, organised in association with SBB.

Part 2, ‘Digital nudge for social distancing’ takes place on 14 October at 13:00-15:00 CEST.

To register or find out more, please visit

For more information: please contact Anuja Raut, IRITS Events at

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