TRANSILIEN, the subsidiary of French National Railways (SNCF) which operates suburban services in the greater Paris region, has begun trialling the use of train occupation displays to help passengers quickly find available seats on busy trains.

The “Hector” trial was launched in March on behalf of transport authority Île-de-France Mobilités, and is taking place on Line H (Paris Gare du Nord - Pontoise - Luzarches - Persan-Beaumont - Valmondois) which carried 260,000 passengers a day before the Covid-19 pandemic. Overcrowding of some coaches has been identified on the line, while other coaches remain partially full.

Hector monitors the loading by using passenger counters installed on SNCF’s Bombardier Z50000 Francilien EMUs. This is then transmitted to a mobile phone application that can be downloaded by passengers, and uses a colour-coded diagram to show which coaches have space available. Red indicates a heavily loaded coach, amber indicates moderately loaded, and green lightly loaded.

Hector is also expected to reduce congestion and improve loading times by encouraging passengers to spread out on platforms and avoid trying to board already congested coaches.