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Intelligence series: Artificial Intelligence and Rail

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the emulation of human intelligence by machines. The traditional areas of AI include reasoning, planning, learning, natural language processing, perception and the ability to move and manipulate objects. AI methods can be placed in two broad categories: The symbolic (top-down) approach focuses on analysing cognition independent of the brain’s structure, in terms of symbol processing. The connectionist (bottom-up) approach involves creating artificial neural networks which imitate the brain’s structure.

The rail industry could use AI to reduce maintenance costs by detecting unscheduled maintenance issues, and automating the planning and scheduling of engineering works. AI can analyse real-time data to predict delays, thus improving public transportation route-planning and enhancing train operations. Similar in principle to how online retailers suggest products to consumers; AI can be used to collect and analyse data from sensors to recommend the most suitable repair action, therefore reducing maintenance costs. Furthermore, video analysis systems can detect fare evaders which could lead to improvements in revenue protection. Passengers could use chat bots with intelligent language processing capabilities, thus easing the burden on call centres and increasing passenger satisfaction.

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