Northern AI BSL image

Train operator Northern is trialling the use of AI to deliver train announcements in British Sign Language (BSL) for those travelling between Manchester and Leeds as well as Leeds to York.

Northern has been working with software experts InfoTec and Signapse on the scheme, which ‘knits together’ individual words signed by a BSL interpreter and displays the complete sentences on customer information screens onboard.

Currently, the announcements will only be operating on some of Northern’s fleet between Leeds to York Via Harrogate and Leeds to Man Victoria via Rochdale.

To begin with they will focus on station names. However, Northern hopes to expand the scheme after customer feedback.

Marc Silverwood, an onboard systems manager at Northern, said: “We know that rail travel can be daunting for anyone with specific access needs, and I really hope this makes a difference to give people confidence to travel by rail.

“We hope to expand this trial further and we can only do that with help from our customers.

“We are asking people to have their say on the scheme, so we are urging them to visit our website to give feedback.”

Mobility equipment supplier TGA and Northern teamed up last year with a goal of making train travel easier with a mobility scooter or wheelchair.

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