Station of the Future
The future of travel isn't flying cars or rocket ships. It's train travel!
At LNER, we're at the forefront of revolutionising travel. Like our faster and smoother Azuma trains. We’ve also introduced our LNER app, offering total convenience in live journey updates and LNER Perks bringing you fantastic rewards.
Together, they’re just some of the ways our digital team is making your journey even easier from the moment you start browsing destinations to the second you arrive there.
It’s exciting stuff and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. We want to introduce you to the place where it’s all happening. Our Station of the Future.
Newcastle station. Full of innovation.
We’re always looking for new ways of doing things, like trialling new technology to bring you better services and better travel, as well as making sure we keep up with the digital world.
Newcastle is our Station of the Future. Here we’ll test brand new technology and pioneering digital ideas. You can experience our technology trials in a real-world environment, using everyday situations. They are all designed to make things easier, quicker and more secure. These tests will be on a small scale and feedback from you and our colleagues will help develop, refine and improve truly groundbreaking technology. Together we can shape the future of rail.
We chose Newcastle as it’s a thriving, vibrant station right at the heart of our route. It’s also served by a range of other train operators. With a dynamic innovation and tech scene, Newcastle is perfect as our Station of the Future.
Look out for our ‘I'm a trial’ badge at our station
Check back here to see what’s live, where and when. Any project we’re trialling will feature an ‘I'm a trial’ badge. So you an easily spot it and get involved.
Ella, LNER’s first digital avatar was live in Newcastle from September last year until February 2022. Ella is an exciting virtual assistant, made to look like a helpful member of staff.
The digital avatar goes beyond speech recognition to bring together natural language processing, avatar programming and cloud computing into a single customer interface.
Ella was programmed to answer questions about travel in the Newcastle City area. During the Pilot period, Ella helped travellers in 2279 conversations (on average that’s 35 conversations a day).
The pilot has provided us with great insight in how this type of technology can help customers and what kind of information they would use a digital avatar for. As this is cutting edge technology, we have also learned valuable insight into its suitability in a challenging station environment.
We are now assessing the results of the pilot and look forward to proposing a further project in 2022.
E-ticket vending machine
In summer 2021 we tested our ticket machine of the future. An entirely digital way to buy your rail tickets using touch screen technology. Quick and easy, it delivers tickets straight to your smartphone wallet. For extra convenience, you can pay by Apple Pay or Google Wallet. It went down a storm.
FutureLabs is our innovation accelerator programme. It aims to find innovative businesses and start-ups from around the world and their game changing solutions to solve challenges across LNER. Then, during an intensive 10 week programme, the cohort and LNER collaborate on bringing a trial of their product to the rail industry.
FutureLabs aims to transform the rail experience and scale-up innovations that will make a real difference to our customers, colleagues and communities – as well as lead the industry. Innovation is all about testing and learning, FutureLabs allows us to do that, at pace.
We ran our first FutureLabs in 2020 which included exciting projects such as At Seat Food Ordering Trial and an air purifying 'tree'. Since then we have begun working with our FutureLabs 2.0 programme.