train station app

UK rail passengers to be informed of delays via Facebook Messenger

Image credit: DT

UK rail passengers are now able to receive alerts through Facebook Messenger to let them know when their train is delayed or cancelled.

The six-month trial is the first of its kind globally and should help to keep customers better informed during disruption.

The messages are tailored to individual passengers and individual journey legs rather than entire rail lines or journeys and cover any delays greater than 10 per cent of the total journey time. They also include details of alternative trains if the services they intend to travel on are delayed or cancelled.

Users can sign up by pressing the “keep me updated” button on the National Rail website when looking at specific services. They can also sign up through the Facebook Messenger app itself.

National Rail, which handles journey planning inquiries, is launching the tool to give passengers the most up-to-date information “without the need for scrolling through endless news feeds on Twitter”. It cited research showing people want to feel “more in control” of their journeys so they can make “informed choices”.

About one in seven (14 per cent) trains failed to meet the industry’s punctuality target in the 12 months to November 10. Fewer than three out of four passengers (73 per cent) were satisfied with the provision of information on trains in the latest major survey by watchdog Transport Focus.

Crispin Humm of National Rail said: “We are committed to putting our customers at the heart of everything we do, which is why we’re investing to deliver new technology that will allow us to provide a more tailored service, keeping our customers informed during times of disruption.

“This new tool will provide customers with useful and relevant information so that they will feel in control of their journeys.”

Part of the system was created by transport technology company Zipabout.

The firm’s head of product Alex Froom said: “For years, Twitter has been the main source of information for those looking for minute-by-minute information on travel news.

“Whilst Twitter is a great information tool, people don’t want to scroll endlessly through news feeds to find out about delays to journeys that may not be relevant to them. By harnessing this new technology, National Rail will be able to get bespoke, accurate information to customers.”

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Passengers tell us repeatedly that when disruption occurs, they need accurate, timely and personalised information.

However, there are still too many instances where passengers are left standing on station platforms, waiting for a delayed train without accurate information confirming when their train will arrive.

“Transport Focus welcomes the rail industry’s renewed focus on improving information for passengers and will be interested to see the outcome of this trial.”

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