Avanti West Coast has introduced new wayfinding technology to help visually impaired customers navigate stations independently.

The rail operator has partnered with GoodMaps to offer the smartphone app at Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent, and Rugby stations on the West Coast Main Line.

Customers can download the free GoodMaps Explore app for step-by-step guidance to specific locations within the stations including the ticket office, toilets, taxi rank, platform and refreshments.

The technology works through image recognition technology, which identifies the user’s position when they hold up their device, enabling it to provide accurate directions.

There are also features catering for a range of disabilities, including support for screen readers and the option to select step-free routes.

Avanti said that while the technology “is designed first and foremost for blind and visually impaired people it can also help those with hearing impairments or anyone who may be anxious about travelling”.

The app can also be used to experience the station environment remotely, allowing customers to familiarise themselves with the location of facilities, as well as plan their journey from entrance to destination.

The GoodMaps Explore app is also available at other UK stations including Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street, London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly and Milton Keynes Central.

This month rail operator LNER became the first rail operator in the UK to trial sign language videos on its departure information screens.

Several scenes at Doncaster Railway station now display videos translating updates into British Sign Language (BSL), including the departure time of services, the train operator, destination, calling points and platform number.

LNER trials integration of British Sign Language on customer information screens

Commenting on the news Brandon Peat, accessibility and inclusion manager at Avanti West Coast, said:

“We want everyone to feel they can travel independently, so we’re proud to have partnered with GoodMaps to give customers the option to navigate stations by themselves.

“The rollout of GoodMaps Explore will provide a consistent experience for customers at both ends of their journey on the west coast and help to make their whole journey as seamless as possible.

“This technology also offers opportunities to provide additional help to those who may need extra support during their journey.

“We hope to expand it to all our stations in the near future – supporting our commitment to enabling independent travel for all.”

To read our recent feature on what is being done to improve accessibility for business travellers, see:

Accessible rights take flight