‘Star Wars’ style virtual reality training for Old Oak workforce

‘Star Wars’ style virtual reality technology is going to be used to train staff and to future proof the design of Old Oak Common station.

In a first for the UK, HS2 Ltd has partnered with high-tech S.M.E., PAULEY; the National College for High Speed Rail; and Inventya. Together they will work with Old Oak Common station designers, specialist engineers WSP, to develop augmented reality (AR) training.

The pioneering project has the scope to give the workforce the skills to deliver quality customer experience, station maintenance and safety awareness. Staff will also be trained to efficiently manage the station and will have the opportunity to provide constructive feedback to the designers.

HS2 Ltd’s Stations Director, Mike Luddy, said: “From its earliest days Old Oak Common will be one of the UK’s busiest and best-connected stations. Serving both HS2 and the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) it is designed to handle around 275,000 passengers every day. To accommodate that number of people in a pleasant, safe and efficient environment, it’s crucial that staff know the station’s workings in detail.

“Trainees can provide feedback to its designers on their experience of running the super hub, so plans can be honed before it is built and help avoid making later and costly changes to the building itself.”

WSP’s Technical Director John Harding, said: “This technology will enable us to future proof Old Oak Common station design and in future it can be used at other stations, not just for training but for all staff following a refurbishment or upgrade.”

Along with the continued efforts to create a sustainable and value set design, WSP, with SME Expedition Engineering, have continued to undertake a series of value engineering reviews for Old Oak Common since the design was launched earlier this year. As the lead engineers on HS2’s Old Oak Common station, in June WSP revealed a 27% reduction in the structural steel of the station roof of the building that is set to be a super hub.

Speaking about the AR training programme, PAULEY’s founder and managing director, Philip Pauley, said: “The way you might want to think about it is like that famous Star Wars scene where R2-D2 projects a 3D image of Princess Leia. That’s what AR is, except for now it’s with the addition of a high-tech visor through which to see it.

“The technology we’re bringing to HS2 enables the wearer to see Old Oak Common station in minute detail. It unlocks huge opportunities to explore, test and refine a digital replica of the station years before the passengers arrive.”

Inventya Project Manager, Andrew Kent, said: “Through the use of immersive technology, their research is set to improve the user experience of future train travellers, and we’re excited to be part of the journey.”

National College for High Speed Rail’s CEO, Clair Mowbray, said the college is “delighted to be part of this collaborative project”.

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