The Great Train Hack

I've always maintained that a probem can be solved with code, so I was set a challenge. The challenge was make a friend's commute to and from work easier and more enjoyable. As they catch the train every day, my focus was on making their train journey easier.

I've always enjoyed travelling by train but most of the time I get rather anxious when waiting on the train station platforms and I see crowds waiting for the same train as I am. Will I get a seat? Will I have to stand? Will I even get on?

How can a problem like that be solved with code? One way would be to somehow get everyone to move off the station platform just before the train arrives, giving you the freedom to choose where you would like to sit. I soon hit on the idea of writing something that would announce in a convincing way, bogus train arrivals on other platforms.

I found a really nice library of train station announcements and working with Pygame, put something together in Python. It took a couple of hours of trial and error but soon I had a basic system that would allow me to specifiy the destination of an arriving train, whilst also being able to list the stations it is calling at, the time of arrival and most importantly, the platform number.

So the next time you're waiting on a crowded platform for a train, fire up the system and create an announcement to inform passengers that their train is arriving on another platform instead. The crowds then move to another part of the station just as your train arrives at its correct platform and you're free to get on without any worries.


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