Do you travel on Northern trains regularly anywhere between Leeds and Manchester Victoria (the Calder Valley route?). Do you have an Android phone?

Do you want to help to improve passenger wellbeing on rail journeys and receive a free wearable activity tracker as a thank-you?

Northern are collaborating with other innovative organisations on a government funded research project which utilises wearable technology to monitor passenger heartrate and wellbeing. The aim of the project is to make rail travel more reliable, safe and efficient in order to improve the overall Northern experience.

We are looking for volunteers to be involved in the research starting in April 2018 running until the Autumn. All you have to do is wear the activity tracker (which you get to keep and use!) and tell us how you feel as you travel with Northern using our ‘Rail Life’ app.

Interested? Then please provide your name and email address and we will contact you once registration formally opens in March.




What is expected of me?

  • Wear the wearable device (on your journey and off your journey)
  • Download the Rail life mobile app to log your experience on your Northern journey (you will receive technical support and briefing on how to do this)
  • At various points in the research period (for a few weeks at a time between April and November) you will be prompted to input your experience at least once on your journey each day (you are free to input as many or as few times as practically possible during the trial period!)

What’s in it for me?

  • Keep the wearable! These are worth up to £120
  • Be a part of an innovative research study – be a Citizen Scientist and help Northern better understand their passengers experience to improve your overall experience!
  • In the longer term, insights from the trial will be used to:
    • Better inform Northern service offerings to improve customer experience and identify future improvement works needed!
    • Provide more timely and personalised customer advice,
    • Respond more quickly to stressful situations as they arise

Am I eligible?

To be eligible you must be: a regular traveller on the Calder valley line, an Android phone user and 18+

Will my data be secure?

Absolutely yes – all of your data will be stored securely, and the way we handle this will comply with new data protection laws (GDPR) due to be introduced in May. Full details of the process of collecting and storage of data will be given at both the registration and consent to take part in the study phase.

Further questions?

More details are provided in the Frequently Asked Questions and, if you have any further questions about taking part in this, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Not quite anyone – to take part you must:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Travel regularly with Northern on the Calder Valley route* (You can start or continue your journey with any other Train Operator as long as you travel with Northern from and to any of the below stations at some point on your regular journey)
  • Have an Android phone which are able to access whilst you travel
  • Be in good general health
  • Be willing to use the Rail Life app to bookmark your rail journey, as and when you receive prompts via the app
  • Agree to the terms of the study


* Calder Valley Route = Leeds – Bramley – New Pudsey – Bradford Interchange – Low Moor – Halifax – Sowerby Bridge – Mytholmroyd – Hebden Bridge – Todmorden – Walsden – Littleborough – Smithy Bridge – Rochdale – Castleton – Mills Hill – Moston – Manchester Victoria 

The study is to use wearable technology (fitness and activity trackers) to monitor Northern customer stress levels based on their physiological state, thus enabling Northern to understand customer wellbeing throughout their rail journey. These powerful insights will create opportunities to significantly improve rail customer and staff experience.

As long as a part of your journey is from and to a station on the Calder Valley line as per the stations list above (and you meet the other criteria for volunteering), you are still able to take part in the research. 

By providing us with your email address, you are showing your interest to take part. Registration fully opens in March and we will contact you once the registration page is live. You will then be required to fill in the short registration form. Providing that you meet the criteria set out above, and that we have not reached the maximum participant number, you should be accepted as part of the research.

You will need to wear the wearable device (on and off your journey*) throughout the research. The wearable device will be synced to your Android phone, and on there you will need to download the Rail Life mobile app to log your experience on your Northern journey. At various points in the research period (for a few weeks at a time between April and November), you will receive notifications on the app which prompt you to input your experience at least once on your journey each day (you are free to input as many or as few times as practically possible during the trial period!).

*so we can determine your resting heart rate

The app will not ask you to log your experiences when you are not taking a journey on the Calder Valley route – we will use GPS to only send log requests during your journey. You are free to interact with the app and log your experiences when not on a Calder Valley train journey, but this isn’t the core purpose of our research.

We will analyse the heart rate and experience data to look for patterns and trends on the Northern Calder Valley route. Using the latest sophisticated analytics tools, we will look for ‘hotspots’ along the route, and understand the relationship between passenger heart rate and experiences through the Rail Life app.

The research will focus on better understanding Northern’s service , not understanding you as an individual. We take your privacy extremely seriously - your heart rate data and experience data will be analysed anonymously and any results will not be personally identifiable to you. Full details of how the data will be used will be provided before you give your consent to take part in the trial.

We are collecting heart rate data from the wearable device as well as information about your wellbeing during your Northern journey via the Rail Life app, along with your location along your journey. In the Rail Life app, at the start of the research project we will ask you to complete a short set of initial questions about you and your train habits. Full details of what data will be collected will be provided before you give your consent to take part in the trial. 

Absolutely yes – as a thank you for taking part, you are able to keep the wearable at the end of the research. These are worth between £70 - £120 RRP.

As well as being able to keep the wearable device at the end of the research, you will be contributing to innovative citizen science* research to improve the Northern customer experience. This is the first and only research project of this kind in the world in the rail industry and has received UK government backing and support. The results generated from the study will have a positive impact for Northern passengers, as the insights gained will help to develop and improve future journeys.

*Citizen Science is the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists.

The research lasts from April through to November,. The trial is broken down into three phases, and during each phase you will be prompted to input your experience whilst travelling on the Rail Life app at least once on your journey, however you are free to input as many or as few times as practically possible during the trial period. The more data we collect, the more insights we can capture to improve your journey experience and those of your fellow passengers.

Information collected during registration will stay confidential in accordance with the following:

Northern strive to protect the privacy of all personally identifiable information collected during the course of providing services and it is important for you to know how we process your data. By providing us with information you consent to the collection, use and transfer of your information to receive communication regarding the Rail Life Wellbeing study under the terms of the privacy policy and also agree to be bound by our Terms and Conditions with are available on the Northern website.

If you change your mind and feel you wish to be discontinued from the study, you are free to do so at any time. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. who will advise on the next steps required. You will be asked to complete an ‘Exit statement’, which discharges you from the study, however we may request that you send the wearable device back to us at your own cost. Note that full details of your rights to withdraw during the study will be provided before you give your consent to take part. 

We are looking to recruit up to 500 volunteers in total.

Yes, we don’t mind why you are travelling regularly, we are only looking to know and learn from your experiences when travelling with Northern.

If accepted to take part in the research, you will receive further details about how to install the app and other relevant instructions. You will also be provided with Technical Support to do this.  

At the next stage, we will ask you for a postal address. The wearable device will be posted out to you, via a courier service. You will receive this in time for the research starting, giving you time to sync the wearable with your Android phone.

Your android phone will be tracking your location using GPS, however we will only be collecting your location when you are on your journey on the Calder Valley. We can do this by sophisticated technology (a geo-fence) of the Calder Valley route. Our interest is focused on understanding Northern’s service and how it can be improved , not tracking individual’s journeys. Once you have finished your journey (and have left the geo-fence), the Rail Life app will not ask you to log your experiences, until you start another journey.  Outside of your journey you may receive status notifications from the Rail Life app (e.g. wearable battery low power), or trial news from the Rail Life team.

Northern are part of a consortium who are running the research programme, which is part funded by the government, via the Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB). The other companies involved in the consortium are:

  • Thales – technologists who specialise in data analytics; turning complex data into insights
  • Saturn Visual Solutions
  • Robertson Cooper – business psychologists who specialise in measuring and improving wellbeing