assist-Mi are pleased to announce a £260k award of co-funding by the UK’s leading innovation agency Innovate UK, for a project to develop and pilot a revolutionary smartphone app, that will help disabled rail passengers obtain real-time assistance during their journey whilst simplifying the booking experience for both the user and train operators. The app will also offer various incentives and promotions made possible by the involvement of Corethree, the mobile solutions experts.

SMART – Spontaneous Mobile Accessible Rail Travel – is an 18 month project which will provide a demonstrator and pilot trial for a new and innovative means of enabling disabled persons to request assistance when travelling by train. assist-Mi are partnered in this project by Integrate Systems Engineering Ltd, Corethree Ltd, and Chester-le-Track’. Grand Central Rail will trial the app on their Sunderland to London service.

The project plans to put an end to the current practices that mean that assistance needs to be booked 24 hours in advance, reducing flexibility in travel planning as well as causing severe distress if the train is missed, delayed or cancelled.  In addition, the passenger has to give their requirements each time they book and support for the journey to the departure station or the onward journey from the destination station often isn’t available.

Neil Herron, Co-Founder of assist-Mi says “We are very excited to be given this fantastic opportunity to solve the problems that so many rail passengers face on a daily basis. Creating real-time assistance for the disabled user is something we feel should be available across all service-providers and we are thrilled to be working with such a well-respected train operator as Grand Central as well as our other forward thinking partners including Corethree, Integrate and Chester-Le-Track to address this SMART project.”

Ashley Murdoch, CEO Corethree says: “We are delighted to be building the commercial capability of the assist-Mi SMART app.  We have created a strong network of commercial partners that enables our mobile ticket customers to enjoy various promotional offers, so it made sense to extend these incentives to the SMART app.  It’s an exciting pilot and we’re looking forward to developing it further.”

The SMART project will use the patented assist-Mi smartphone app to enable disabled persons to register and store a profile of their assistance needs.  For each journey they can then book their train ticket and request personalised assistance in one simple operation.  The system will be interactive, enabling users to make additional requests as the journey progresses, whilst the smartphone location services will enable transport service providers to know in real time exactly where that person is and thus when the assistance needs to be provided.

The SMART system will provide a major benefit to disabled rail passengers through the use of a simple smartphone app – which will be free of charge to users. Following successful completion of the trial it is anticipated that this service will be rolled out nationwide.