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Virgin Trains launches app to help passengers facing rail disruption

Image credit: virgin trains

Virgin Trains has released its ‘Back on Track’ app designed to give travellers more accurate information about delays by connecting them with control centre staff.

The rail firm said this is the first time that such an approach has been taken and will allow staff to give passengers up-to-the-minute details such as the best alternative routes and ticket acceptance by other companies.

Co-created by the digital workflow company ServiceNow, the app is being regularly used by hundreds of Virgin Trains employees across its UK network.

The second development is Track ‘n’ Travel, which is fuelled by the same data which Back on Track uses and allows customers to review their journey before and after departures.

Virgin Trains estimates the technology could cut the time it takes to resolve incidents by at least 20 minutes, due to a reduction in front line staff needing to telephone the control centre to find out what is happening.

A major Transport Focus survey conducted between September and November last year found that fewer than three out of four (74 per cent) passengers across all operators were satisfied with the provision of information during their last journey.

Virgin Trains chief information officer John Sullivan said: “Our main problem at times of disruption is simple: thousands of Virgin Trains colleagues trying to find out the latest information to communicate to as many as 100,000 customers. Our control centre can get 1,000 calls a day from staff across the network during disruption. If the information they need is instantly available on their mobile, there’s no need to make that call, freeing up control to deal with the root cause.

“By getting the most up-to-date information to all our colleagues we ensure that they know what the latest plan is, he said. “Less time on the phone means they can spend more time helping customers face to face, and they can feed information about the situation on the ground back to control via the app.”

Last year the Government announced plans to increase the availability of real-time train information so that tech companies can build more robust travel apps in the UK. 

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