AI to help the trains run on time

A Stockholm train driving through the rural countryside outside of Stockholms city centre.

writer icon Kristine Hanson     Erich Westendarp   |   City     🕐 07. Dec. 2018

Public transport in Stockholm (SL) is undergoing a major process of digitisation. In one of the largest projects from the Transport Office, 250 million SEK has been invested in introducing a cloud-based ticketing administration.

Pre-emptive detection
They have also developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system to detect traffic errors before they have occurred. With the help of machine learning, they can keep an eye on vehicle and track conditions.

SL will be able to replace parts that are on their way to breaking, rather than discovering the issue at the same time as the damage occurs. At present, services are made according to a scheduled plan.

Today’s inefficient system
This current calendar-based repair service can lead to some parts being replaced before necessary. More disruptively, some parts may have needed an earlier service.

“The vision is that this will lead to fewer interferences in the traffic and thereby a better traveller-experience”, IT-director Krister Dackland said in a press statement

Expectations will be high
The promised AI-system is currently in the concept phase. It is being used and tested on one of Stockholm’s narrow railways, Roslagsbanan. Much of the testing route is a single track.

The expectation from residents and users of Stockholm’s public transport is that this huge investment will lead to a more efficient transport system, with fewer delays and cancellations. It will be extremely important for people to see a positive result from this significant expenditure. Ticket prices have been raised in order to accumulate the profit needed to invest in the AI project, together with other methods for tightening the budget.

On a regular day, 1 777 000 journeys are made using the various train systems in Stockholm. A further 1 140 000 journeys happen by bus.

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