Innovative platform-train monitoring system from Digital Rail helps make railways safer

28 June 2019


Britain’s railway travellers are used to the familiar request from station staff to stand behind the yellow line that now appears on most UK train platforms. The line is there for good reason: every year, incidents are caused by people ignoring this advice, resulting in injury & even fatalities.

There are CCTV cameras on carriages to monitor this, and the train drivers and guards do a good job of keeping incidents to a minimum, checking the CCTV cameras for each carriage door before departure. But this is a challenge – there may be up to 12 carriage doors to monitor, and this at the busiest time when the driver is trying to leave the platform.

An innovation to help reduce yellow line incidents was demonstrated by Digital Rail at the recent Rail Live event, an exhibition which brings the entire rail industry together in a real railway environment. Its RailSight system assists the driver and guard by detecting anyone beyond the yellow line, alerting the driver’s display by highlighting the carriage door on a monitor. The system uses existing CCTV cameras supplied by Petards and does not impact on any existing systems.

Digital Rail Director, Howard Parkinson explained: "We have a great team, combining experienced engineers with a young team of computer graduates, many from Lancaster University, where our office is based. Our RailSight system is currently a prototype, and we have a strong interest from train operators to develop a production version. Rail Live was a welcome opportunity for us to show our innovation to the Railway industry. This could not have done without the support of Porterbrook, who provided a whole train dedicated to new ideas and technology – the Innovation Hub. We received a lot of interest from a wide range of people, and had the opportunity to explain our ideas to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, who made a point of visiting the Innovation Hub."

The company is involved in several new initiatives which build on the idea of using intelligent systems to interpret CCTV video. These include the yellow line safety improvements, identifying people requiring assistance at platforms (wheelchair users for example) and helping station staff to manage railways users.

Digital Rail are based at the InfoLab building within the Lancaster University and work closely with other universities in the north, including Huddersfield and MMU. Their next pilot project will be demonstrated at Chippenham station.

For more information about Rail Live visit

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