No crowds on the train of the future

Forget the Millennium Dome, Germany’s Expo 2000 world fair spread across 170 hectares of Hanover includes a forest from Finland, a paper pavilion from Japan and 21 hours of Goethe’s Faust. Unfortunately, just like the Dome, the world fair at Hanover is also experiencing a shortfall in visitor numbers. Both attractions made plans to use […]

Forget the Millennium Dome, Germany’s Expo 2000 world fair spread across 170 hectares of Hanover includes a forest from Finland, a paper pavilion from Japan and 21 hours of Goethe’s Faust.

Unfortunately, just like the Dome, the world fair at Hanover is also experiencing a shortfall in visitor numbers. Both attractions made plans to use innovative public transport to bring the anticipated hordes of visitors to the turnstiles each day.

In the UK, a planned guided bus service to the dome has been shelved. But in Germany, those that make the journey to Expo 2000 can take the so-called innovation train.

Packed with high-tech communications systems, the trains have been refurbished by Deutsche Bahn, the German state railway company, and showcase the Passenger Information and Entertainment systems developed by Adtranz.

PIE brings together passenger information, communications, and entertainment services. Office compartments will offer computer, fax and mobile phone facilities. A `TV wagon’ will show video on demand via two screens equipped with Dolby surround-sound systems.

The PIE system consists of four basic building blocks. Info-PIE provides real-time updated displays and computer-generated announcements about timetables and arrival and departure times. Information is distributed by radio, infra-red or satellite.

The com-PIE module coordinates internal communications for railway and bus operators. Data transmitted by telephone, ISDN, satellite and mobile phones makes remote control possible. com-PIE can be linked to vehicle management systems so that bus drivers, for example, can be kept up-to-date about deviations from their timetable.

Safe-PIE is a remote video surveillance system that incorporates emergency `talk-back’ units for passengers and staff to access controls.

Finally, enter-PIE allows passengers to listen to music, watch a video, or surf the internet, facilities which will also provide a welcome diversion for those waiting on the platform or in the bus station.

`Visitors to the fair will be able to experience travel comfort of the future,’ says Dr Carsten Claussen, vice president of Adtranz in Germany.

And if the show continues to flop, passengers will find that at least they have no problem finding a seat.

Copyright: Centaur Communications Ltd. and licensors