Fri07282017

CFL app 360

In the second of two articles on state-of-the-art Customer Information Systems at the CFL, I’ll address the free WLAN pilot project currently in operation at the Luxembourg City and Ettelbrück train stations, as well as CFL and Social Media.

This WLAN pilot project allows customers, thanks to geolocalisation, to log into the customised CFL WLAN, use the diverse information available on the homepage and communicate to CFL in real time their feedback - ideas and suggestions for improvement, etc. - in order to further upgrade this new, extended WLAN service.

Journey times, live traffic info, travel ideas and special offers, as well as job vacancies at the CFL, can be seen at a glance on the WLAN homepage. Wireless surfing is possible during station opening times.  Following the trial period, the service is to be extended even further: The CFL will incorporate the results of this pilot project to also offer the improved WLAN service to other stations across Luxembourg’s rail network. Accordingly, about 10 stations should also be fitted with WLAN technology. Amongst others, the free WLAN connection should also be set up at the new intermodal interchange hubs at Pfaffenthal-Kirchberg and Howald.

The social networks

The CFL already operates a number of effective information channels such as the CFL website, the “CFL mobile” App and the InfoPoint at the main station in Luxembourg, to name but a few.

However, digital communication channels are playing an increasingly important role in our society and in progressive businesses. On 2 February, the CFL decided to take the important step into the world of digital social communication, creating its own pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube and setting up its own blog. The firm objective is to be closer to its customers, to supply them on the one hand with information and, on the other, to listen to them actively and to engage and interact with them.

Listening – understanding customers, optimising services

By engaging via social media, the CFL has extremely rapid and effective feedback channels at its disposal. Through so-called “monitoring”, i.e. the daily analysis of what is posted on social media, including also posts on the CFL website, any comments or suggestions can be identified and passed on to the respective departments.

Leading to discoveries – explaining and inspiring

Many people are not aware that there is considerably more to CFL than ‘just’ being a transport service provider. The steps taken to participate in social media give the CFL access to additional channels to explain the multi-faceted nature of its activities, professions, work environments and numerous stories behind the seemingly ordinary daily routine.

Even ‘irritating’ construction sites can suddenly make sense with the aid of targeted and processed information, e.g. as a photo story on the blog and as the background, procedures and motives behind the work are explained to customers. A great potential for stirring up general curiosity and enthusiasm is, amongst other things, reports on the various technical aids, such as the Swietelsky track-renewal train (you can find a video on this at http://blog.cfl.lu).

The CFL Facebook page and blog are especially effective in covering these points and should lead to discoveries, explanations and inspiration. The same applies to the numerous “unknown” CFL professions and work environments, which can be presented via social media. By its presence on LinkedIn, the CFL Group aims to position itself more intensely as an attractive employer, to present innumerable professions and to inspire and recruit new talent as a result.

Information – in real time and on the go

Thanks to its viral character, CFL views Twitter as the perfect channel to convey information on what is currently happening on Luxembourg’s rail network. Via the CFL Twitter account (@CFLinfos), customers have access to real-time information on disruptions to the railway service.

In this case, hashtags (#) provide orientation. Customers who, for example, are standing at the track and who want to know whether and why their train is delayed can check this by using the relevant hashtag. Commuters on line 90 (Luxembourg – Thionville – Nancy) already use this service on a daily basis and regularly keep themselves updated via #CFLINFOS90. In the days and weeks following the train accident on 14 February 2017, the CFL Twitter account proved to be especially helpful in keeping the customers permanently updated on the current railway service situation.

CFL info point 600

In the first of two articles on state-of-the-art Customer Information Systems at the CFL, I’ll address the InfoPoint at Luxembourg City train stations as well as the Aramis and Auris systems and how they are helping CFL passengers

The CFL Group aims to provide all-round premium quality services; in order to be able to ensure an even better response to the needs and concerns of their customers, to provide them with comprehensive information and also to be directly accessible, the CFL is investing in a wide range of initiatives and measures.

The InfoPoint at the main station

The CFL teams are on duty 7 days/week to serve our customers. These include members of the train crew, ticket clerks, station inspectors, call centre employees and many other contact partners. Other contacts are the employees of the CFL InfoPoint, which is located in the middle of the hall of Luxembourg’s main station since the start of 2016 and which is open daily from 06:00 to 21:45. There, customers receive information on the various train timetables, including the respective arrival and departure times of the trains at the station and the tracks where they arrive. Customers are also provided with assistance in respect of the fares of national and international travel offers. Similarly, passengers are quickly updated on possible disruptions or construction sites on their respective travel route. InfoPoint staff provide customers whose journey continues from the main station with information on possible connections by bus or taxi. They explain to customers where they can find various services at the station and distribute a variety of informative literature. Those who are in rather a hurry and wish to avoid standing in any queues can find the detailed information they require - on the departure time and track of their respective train connection - on one of a total of eight monitors inside and outside the InfoPoint.

Aramis and Auris as a source of real-time info

Thanks to state-of-the-art technologies, customer information in real time is possible: The CFL App and website both offer information on the location and punctuality of trains via the two systems Aramis and Auris and, consequently, pass it on directly to customers.

By introducing the “CFL mobile” smartphone App, the CFL has created a tool by which customers can always keep up-to-date even when they are on the go – in real time, thanks to the travel information captured via the Aramis system. In this way, they can prepare their journey through Luxembourg and other countries in Europe to suit their personal needs, the App giving them all the information and train connections they require. Users have the option to receive updates and information on disruptions on the rail network as a push message. The concept of the “CFL mobile” allows the CFL to provide railway users throughout Europe with practical information. Customers can send their feedback – both suggestions and complaints - via the integrated contact form of the App direct to the CFL. The free App is available for all current smartphone operating systems.

The www.cfl.lu  website presents visitors with offers and provides details on the versatility of the CFL Group and on current topics related to the company and its services. Moreover, the homepage directly provides the latest information on the railway service on all routes, including construction works and any disruptions. The website also helps in the search for any train connections required in Luxembourg and abroad.

The source of these two (and further) communication tools: two closely connected processes to aid daily customer information - the Aramis and Auris systems.

The “Advanced Rail Automation Management and Information System”, in short Aramis, is a tool to manage railway services in real time, including location and punctuality of a specific train, via both the CFL App and website. Since November 2015, Aramis serves the CFL as a central interface for the receipt, processing and transmission of all timetable and transport information between their respective source and the departments concerned as well as the passenger information via, for example, online media, announcements and destination boards, etc.

It is at the point of this transmission of information that the Auris system comes in. Auris, the German abbreviation for “Automatic Passenger Information System”, is still in its test phase, and aims to convey passenger information automatically and in real time to rail travellers. This system can capture data directly via the Aramis system on train times during normal operations and in the event of any delays and disruptions. In this way, passengers are kept informed in a timely manner on specific details by means of dynamic destination boards and automated announcements, including automated audio recordings in the text-to-speech process, reproducing them in high sound quality where required. At the same time, the high degree of automation of the Auris system takes the pressure off traffic controllers, allowing them to focus entirely on technical solutions in the event of irregularities or disruptions without neglecting important passenger information.

The new Auris system is being tested during the pilot phase currently in progress at a total of 12 stations and stops in the south and southwest of the Grand Duchy. The experiences gathered during the pilot phase will then be evaluated and used to prepare the extension of Auris over the entire Luxembourg rail network, which will take several years.

Cabines funiculaire2 600

The red cabins of the new funicular railway slide effortlessly, almost gracefully, up the 200 metres that separate the Pfaffenthal and their destination. Once at the Pont Grande Duchesse Charlotte, commonly known as the "Pont Rouge" (Red Bridge), countless passengers stream out of the red cabins. At peak times, each cabin of the funicular railway, which connects the new Pfaffenthal-Kirchberg CFL train station and the Pont Rouge, can hold up to 168 people, who, once at the bridge, can continue their journeys on bike, foot, by bus or on board the new tram. 

At the moment, all this lies in the future, but in a few months' time it will become reality: On 10 December 2017, the new Pfaffenthal-Kirchberg Connection Point will go into operation. The multi-level centre will not only connect Pfaffenthal and Kirchberg, it will also offer rail, bus, and tram connections as well as soft mobility and, for the first time ever in the Grand Duchy, a funicular railway connection, which every few minutes will effortlessly glide up and down the almost 40-metre-high slope between the new railway station and the Pont Rouge, taking just under one minute to complete the journey.

The Connection Point is specifically designed to allow rail passengers to access the funicular railway platform in the shortest time possible using the stairs or escalator. The ground-level cabin entrances are specially tailored to the needs of persons with reduced mobility, with five lifts also available. Pedestrians coming from Pfaffenthal can also reach the funicular railway platform via the lift, which also stops at platform level, or via the steps from Rue St. Mathieu. A footpath that winds its way up to the Pont Rouge is ideal for walking in good weather. Travellers keen to shorten their journeys with the funicular railway do not require a separate ticket. Only the stairs along the rails of the funicular railway are not intended for use by pedestrians, and instead are included for maintenance purposes and possible evacuations. 

This transport innovation will allow travellers who previously had to commute through the busy city traffic towards Kirchberg from the Gare Central to save 20-25 minutes each way – a considerable time-saving. Six trains from the south and north of Luxembourg will stop at the new railway station every hour from each direction. Thus, rail travellers from the south of the country, after stopping as usual at the main railway station in Luxembourg City, will soon find themselves stopping at the new station. Passengers travelling from the north of Luxembourg to the capital, or more precisely to the Kirchberg distric, can, a few kilometres before reaching the main railway station and very close to their destination, leave the train and easily reach Kirchberg using the funicular railway. 

All this is possible thanks to state-of-the-art technology from a Swiss manufacturer. The system designed for Luxembourg includes a total of four cabins, distributed across two separate tracks, which during peak times can transport up to 7,200 people per hour up- and downhill. Within ten minutes they can therefore accommodate the passengers from two crowded trains, each holding 600 people. The carriages are 11.8 metres long and 3.5 metres wide, and clad in classic "CFL Red" - a colourful eye-catcher in the cityscape. With nearly 34 square metres of standing room per cabin, they offer plenty of space for passengers who use them in the morning and evening to travel between the rail stop and the bridge. 16 folding seats are provided for those who prefer to sit down.

The two individually-constructed funicular railway systems each comprise two cabins on rails, connected to each other using a wire cable. A 680 HP electric motor and a drive pulley with a diameter of no less than 2.4 metres set the carriages in motion. On ascending and descending, they pass through a small double tunnel, where their routes cross at a passing place. With a total weight of around 17 tonnes, the funicular railway cabins each consists of two parts – a superstructure and a substructure – in order to be able to optimally adapt to the specific inclination of the track. The super- and substructures were delivered separately at the end of March 2017 and assembled on site, before being lifted onto the tracks using a crane. 

 

cfl fahrsimulator2 600

For some time, the "Wëssens-Atelier" non-profit association has set itself the task of inspiring 10 to 12 year-olds in the domain of technology; in order to enable young people to get involved with technical professions early on, the association is continually searching for suitable partners.

Technology: an important supporting pillar of modern railway companies

The fact that more than 20 million people are transported by the Luxembourg railways (CFL) across Grand Duchy every year makes it easy to see that technology is one of the things that CFL cannot do without - whether it be to regulate the tight train traffic, to drive the powerful locomotives and electric carriages, or in many other areas.

Mission: generate enthusiasm

The CFL did not miss the opportunity to present some of the technical and most popular occupations of their company to a number of children who visited the Luxembourg railways recently under the guise of the association. With the help of the signal simulator, an exact replica of the work domain of the railway controllers, the curious students got a feeling for the volume and scope of technology that is necessary to ensure the safety in rail traffic, both passenger transportation and freight too. The various elements such as railways, switches, signals, safety systems and their functioning were explained using a model railway that had been carefully assembled to detail.

Train driver for a day

With the driving simulator, used during the training of future train drivers, the children were offered a further highlight. Each child had the unique opportunity to “take the wheel" of a 3000 series locomotive and to listen to the explanation of the functions of its many levers and lights.

Conclusion

After the successful discovery trip, it was not only the children who were completely enthusiastic about their experience; the CFL employees also visibly enjoyed the fun of being able to inspire children in technology and its impact on their own profession.

cfl stellwerksimulator 600

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