Creating a train station in virtual reality with MTR Crossrail

Trains and railroad stations have existed since the 19th century when the first steam engines were invented. Nowadays, we have air travel, buses, Uber, and soon even Hyperloop, but trains remain a standard way of public transport.

Considering the constant stress of train schedules, employees of railroad stations around the world have to operate exactly like the passengers expect – fast, safe and without delays.

Organizing and training a workforce that operates a railroad station in big metropolitan cities is by every means a tall task. This is notably the case now, where the stations become a maze of trains, shopping stores, and restaurants.

Even though we live in an age when more and more things are automated, a lot of railroad traffic still depends on humans, who have to keep things running smoothly as possible with the minimum room for error.

Trains and the entire railroad infrastructure have significantly changed since the 19th century, but training a staff that operates these railroads has pretty much stayed the same. It’s hands-on learning using a manual, which enables the staff to learn how to manage the machines, systems, and people.

This was the case until recently when MTR Crossrail in London decided to implement VR technology to train its staff. By using the HTC Vive VR system, trainees have the opportunity to walk around the virtual facility and take various actions based on movement, while operating controllers in each hand.

There are different scenarios set for trainees, such as handling crises and reporting safety issues that would be hard and dangerous to test in real life.

It takes a while to get acclimated to the way a virtual environment reacts to human movement. However, most of the trainees reportedly very satisfied and excited about this new method of learning.

Scenarios are based on virtual train stations so the trainees can learn the processes, rather than relying on something to be in a place which might get relocated elsewhere.

It is safe to conclude that trainees of MTR Crossrail will have a better working knowledge and understanding of their new tasks and duties than their colleagues who learned about crises over a PowerPoint presentation. Different studies have already proven this. This is the reason that many other London stations plan to implement VR technology. In the meantime, they are sending a bulk of their trainees to MTR Crossrail to learn the business with the help of this new technology.

Managers of train stations believe that VR training will significantly improve the safety and quality of the train stations in the UK. It will enable their staff to react more quickly and solve problems more efficiently.

VR technology will likely be a disruptive force that will change the way many industries do business. Gaming and the entertainment industry have been the first on the bandwagon. VR pornography is also becoming incredibly popular. There is a massive market for vr games and movies.

It is possible even the education system will pick up on the example that has been set by MTR Crossrail. Our generation has learned to drive a car by going to driving school and learning regulations by studying theory. Our children may learn it using VR glasses.