Light lets you know if you're standing in the right place
Light-emitting platforms made their German debut at Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt station in 2018. Passengers waiting for S-Bahn lines 1, 2 and 3 on platform 2 see flashing lights embedded in the floor. Symbols light up before the next train enters the station to indicate where the train will stop. Lights also indicate where the doors are located. This lets passengers know where to stand on the platform so that boarding takes less time and the train can depart without delay.
Deutsche Bahn is piloting Germany's first dynamic platform lighting on the Stuttgart S-Bahn. The innovative solution uses light-transmitting concrete installed in the platform, which was developed by SIUT, a Berlin startup. The video below shows how the light-emitting platform works.
What is the light-emitting platform made of?
Around 200 meters of light-transmitting concrete is installed on platform 2 at Bad Cannstatt station. The concrete is located about a meter from the edge of the platform, just inside the line that indicates a safe distance to the edge.
- The light strips are made up of 670 30x30 cm light-transmitting concrete slabs that are eight centimeters thick. The concrete is poured around optical fibers arranged in a pattern.
- Light-transmitting concrete contains 15 different components, which bind the optical fiber systems with the concrete with no loss of quality.
- The surface of the slabs is sealed to protect against water, dirt and damage.
How do light-transmitting concrete slabs work?
- A small computer is installed underneath each light-transmitting concrete slab, which can send and receive digital signals.
- The electronics consist of a control board, an LED board, and data and power cables.
- Each light-transmitting concrete slab can be controlled individually.
- Information about the train category and train length is transmitted in real time so that the train length and location of the doors can be indicated on the concrete slabs.
What information can the system provide?
- The lights can be used to show four symbols, which either light up once or blink: arrows pointing left and right, double dotted lines and X's.
- A static double yellow line shows where the different categories of trains stop (short, normal or long train). In the areas of the platform outside of the stopping position of the train, white blinking arrows point to the area where the train will stop.
- A static double white line indicates where the doors will be located.
Why is it important for passengers to board S-Bahn trains quickly?
Passengers do not always spread out evenly across platforms. Instead they tend to group close to platform entrances. This can mean that it takes longer for all passengers to use doors that are particularly crowded, which can cause some cars to be fuller than others.
When short trains are used, passengers often don't stand where the train is going to stop.
- The light-emitting platform project is an innovative guidance system that allows passengers to more easily find the right position along the platform. Passengers are more evenly spread out across the platform, making the process of exiting and entering cars quicker.
- Speeding up this process has a positive impact on the punctuality of S-Bahn rapid transit trains.
Finding seats faster
The innovative passenger guidance system also uses the light-transmitting concrete to show the passenger load of trains arriving at the platform. Capacity is indicated based on a capacity measurement system developed by the English startup OpenCapacity.
How is passenger load measured?
UK start-up OpenCapacity supplies DB with the hardware and software, which uses existing video surveillance cameras in the trains to determine the passenger load in each car. The British start-up took part in the "meet@mindbox" network event organized by Deutsche Bahn in 2016.
- An additional on-board computer is connected to the video surveillance system in suburban trains.
- Using trained algorithms, the computer measures and determines a real-time occupancy pattern.
- This is used to calculate an occupancy rate, which is transmitted to the platform edge, where double lines of red, yellow and green illuminated dots indicate the passenger load of each car in real time.
- This makes it easier for passengers to find a seat in a less busy car.
- No personal data is collected.
- The real-time passenger load as well as a load forecast are available in an app. This enables passengers to plan their journey in a less busy train.
Tests were conducted in 2018 to take video recordings of how passengers filled up seats on test trains, and this information was used to identify patterns. The capacity of each car is transmitted to the platform and is indicated in red, yellow or green depending on how full the car is.