Northern customers travelling between Manchester and Leeds as well as Leeds to York will be able to see some of the train operator’s announcements in British Sign Language (BSL) thanks to a trial involving AI.

The train operator has been working with software experts InfoTec and Signapse on the scheme, which ‘knits together’ individual words signed by a BSL interpreter and displays the complete sentences on customer information screens onboard.

Census data in 2021 showed that in addition to spoken languages, BSL was the main language of 22,000 people.

Currently, the announcements will only be operating on some of Northern’s fleet between Leeds to York Via Harrogate and Leeds to Man Victoria via Rochdale.

To begin with they will focus on station names, however Northern hopes to expand the scheme after customer feedback.

Marc Silverwood, onboard systems manager at Northern, said: “We know that rail travel can be daunting for anyone with specific access needs, and I really hope this makes a difference to give people confidence to travel by rail.

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“We hope to expand this trial further and we can only do that with help from our customers.

“We are asking people to have their say on the scheme, so we are urging them to visit our website to give feedback.” To fill in the feedback form visit the website here.

Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, with 2,500 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.