MARL was approached to help West Midlands Railway reduce its power consumption and subsequent operating costs, with the intention of diverting energy savings to other purposes like mobile phone and laptop charging. A further goal was to enhance passenger safety and wellbeing on board.
The client wanted to replace the older fluorescent tube lighting on its Class 323 trains with an intelligent LED lighting system. With the power to automatically increase or dim based on existing lighting levels, intelligent lighting systems are versatile alternatives to their traditional counterparts.
MARL developed Sci-Light, a modular lighting system that features ambient light sensors that can sample surrounding light conditions 50 times per second. When lighting conditions change, the system transitions between light levels at a gradual pace that is almost imperceptible to the human eye.
The confines of the Class 323 train carriages meant that MARL needed to create a fully custom product. Following a full in-depth survey, we created the bespoke retrofit saloon ceiling lighting system, ensuring it could communicate between carriages. This meant that the lighting would only change based on a real light issue like a train entering a tunnel or a sudden change in weather. The system cannot be triggered by a temporary change such as a tall person blocking a single sensor.
Given the need to retrofit our solution, we created a modular system. Housed within metal, the modular panels varied in length: a standard panel was 4ft, with further variations of up to a foot included in some areas of the carriages. Following in-house manufacturing and an intensive testing process, the MARL team installed the system directly, giving us full confidence that it was fit to the right standards.
MARL, EAO and West Midlands Railway were all happy with the result: we achieved an almost 80% energy saving compared to the original fluorescent tube lighting, meaning energy could be used elsewhere in the carriage.
The new system also made passengers feel more comfortable, with the majority reporting feeling safer with the new lighting in place, according to a post-installation survey.
The design, manufacture and installation programme took place in 2008 and 2009 and the system then operated successfully with no reported failures.
In 2009 we received an award for Passenger Comfort Innovation of the Year.