VIDEO: MP launches UK's first smart wall at Harrogate rail station

The UK's first 'smart wall' ticketing system has been launched at Harrogate train station by Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones.

Monday, 11th January 2016, 2:03 pm
Updated Monday, 11th January 2016, 2:09 pm
The smart wall in Harrogate's newly refurbished rail station

The junior transport minister joined representatives from Northern Rail for a demonstration on how to use the system and to give a speech at the official opening.

Northern Rail have invested around £150,000 in the smart wall as part of a commercial contract with Parkeon Transport and Parking Solutions.

Mr Jones said: "It's always fun when your area goes first and congratulations to Northern and the team for delivering this because the future of ticketing is changing quite fundamentally.

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The smart wall in Harrogate's newly refurbished rail station

"We are moving away from the area of magnetic strips and older ticketing to people accessing their tickets and tokens to travel in lots of new ways, so this is a symbol of the future.

"It's good to start this year on a positive note.

"We have been really bogged down underwater, literally, over the past few weeks but we are seeing some significant change in transport for the north and we can see some of that starting to come through this year."

The new smart wall uses Kinect technology to sense when a customer approaches and ensure the screen meets their eye level.

The smart wall in Harrogate's newly refurbished rail station

A number of other digital screens also provide commuters using the station with transport information, social media feeds, national news updates, local weather forecasts and maps.

After 2015 saw a change of hands in the franchise for Northern Rail from Serco and Abellio to Arriva, the minister said transport for the north had a much brighter future.

He said: "When the old franchise was let on a no growth basis, it proved to be a ridiculous error because we have actually seen half a million more passengers in this station alone during the course of the franchise so it's actually been a high growth franchise.

"What we will see when the new franchise comes in place is a much more ambitious project for the north.

"We are spending around £13 billion on transport for the north over the course of the next four years and we will see investment in rail, stations, services, electrification of certain lines and later on in this course we will see the dualling in sections of the track between Knaresborough and York, which all in aggregate add up to a much transformed service for passengers."

After receiving a complete internal refurbishment less than a year ago, Northern Rail have also announced plans for the opposite side of the track of Harrogate station.

The business has already drawn up plans to fit a modern new heated waiting area on platform 3, where customers wait for the popular service to Leeds.

As a result of such promised investment, Mr Jones said the Harrogate station, which has long been left behind, will finally be transformed.

He said: "In four years time this will be a transformed and unrecognisable service, it's so overdue it's going to be extremely welcome by people and we have a positive symbol of it, that change, with the smart wall here today."