South Western Railway trials cutting-edge AI technology to improve accessibility
London Waterloo, Britain's busiest station, is testing an Artificial Intelligence system that delivers train information in British Sign Language (BSL).
This technology aims to assist travellers who are deaf or have hearing loss, as they often struggle to hear announcements and communicate with staff. Through digital totem screens, the AI translates live journey information into BSL, making it more accessible and inclusive.
The trial, conducted by South Western Railway (SWR) in partnership with Waterloo Station and Inform Media by LB Foster, aims to provide deaf customers with travel information in their first language, boosting their confidence during journeys. If successful, the technology could be implemented across the entire SWR network, as part of the company's ongoing efforts to enhance customer experience and improve journeys.
Peter Williams, SWR’s Customer and Commercial Director said “We are excited to launch the trial of this innovative technology, which has the potential to transform accessibility at Britain’s busiest station. We will watch this trial with great interest and if all goes well, we hope we can roll it out across our network.”
Huw Merriman, Rail Minister, said “Everyone should be able to travel on our railways with confidence and ease and trials like this are essential in making that a reality.”
“Accessibility is a top priority for this Government, and new technologies and projects like this will make a real difference for passengers.”
Emma Boswell, who is a member of SWR’s Inclusivity and Accessibility Forum and a BSL user, added “This is a breakthrough for the Deaf and Deafblind communities, making travel more accessible and enjoyable with BSL announcements on totems around SWR stations.”
Teri Devine, Director for Inclusion at deaf and hearing loss charity RNID, said: “Public transport can present many barriers for deaf people and people with hearing loss, with live information such as platform changes often communicated over a speaker system.
“We are excited by this new initiative at London Waterloo station to make travelling by train more accessible to deaf people who use BSL, and we hope this trial will encourage the public to be more deaf-aware during their journeys”
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