Virtual Station Tours: Improving Safety and Calming Passenger Nerves
The online virtual tour on the web offers potential passengers choices of autopilot or manual when navigating the station. Technology users can choose the location of the station they want to see and be automatically guided to it, or they can choose to click through the pages on their own.
There is an interactive map that allows users to view the entire station layout, as well as click on links to navigate to specific areas of the station. The platform aims to reassure passengers about the accessibility and general safety of passengers in the station.
A Greater Anglia spokesperson said: “The tour has been designed to make travel planning easier, give customers a clearer picture of the station before they travel and reduce anxiety about how they will get around the parking at the platform at the airport.”
The tour uses 360 degree photography, aerial photography and an interactive map to locate guest facilities. The technology covers other public areas of the station, including the entrance, restrooms, customer service or ticket office, platforms, elevators, cafe car parks and drop-off areas.
There is an aerial view of the car park, bike park, bus stop and taxi stand/drop off location, while the tactile paving which is a textured paving on the edge of the platforms, the Travel meeting points can be viewed from the drop-down menu.
The spokesperson said: “It gives you the closest experience to physically being there. Customers can take their time to take a good look around without the pressures of real travel.
“It gives people a visual guide and a guided tour of the station. This empowers the customer as it allows them to decide what is not an obstacle for their journey rather than being told if something is accessible or not.
There is a spoken scene guide with subtitles on the homepage and an accessibility widget that allows users to change layout options including large font size, high contrast or transcript sound. Informed trip planning is essential for some passengers and these features are useful for that reason.
Implementing virtual tour technology in relation to the station posed many challenges. Greater Anglia sought a supplier to adapt the technology that would be used in the station’s dynamic and diverse environment while making it accessible. Virtual tour experts have made this possible.
The station was to be filmed at a quiet time when there were few customers using it. This was essential to provide clarity by ensuring that passengers had a detailed idea of the locations in the station. In addition, permission for aerial images was required.
Greater Anglia and Virtual Tours experts overcame technical constraints to make the technology usable on platforms such as mobile devices as well as computers.
The virtual tour can be particularly useful for customers with disabilities to check the accessibility of their journey. The Greater Anglia Accessibility Committee is made up of a group of customers with disabilities who meet regularly with the company to share their feedback on the project. Members shared their support for the virtual tour idea throughout.
Stansted Airport station has step-free access, accessible ticket machines, accessible ticket counters and a ramp is available for access to the train. A few new trains also serve the station, these trains have a retractable step allowing passengers in wheelchairs and scooters to board without a ramp.
While trained staff are also on hand to assist customers with access needs, virtual tours further enhance trip planning for passengers arriving at the station.
The goal will be to create 360-degree virtual tours for ten stations that are becoming very busy and therefore might be more difficult to navigate.
Virtual tours are also available for passengers using Norwich and Cambridge stations. Virtual Tours Experts also plans to make tours of Bishops Stortford, Broxbourne, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Shenfield and Southend Victoria available to the public.
Greater Anglia is also aiming to include British Sign Language videos to support customer information in the future.