Over 65s encouraged to ‘Ask Annie’ to plan journeys

West Midlands Trains to help jobseekers
Credit: London North Western Railway

West Midlands Trains and Viaqqio are trialling a new personalised travel assistant and are encouraging volunteers over the age of 65 to help trial the new assistant.

Ask-Annie is a service specifically aimed at the over 65s, providing itineraries across all modes of transport.

A dedicated phone line helps customers to discuss details of a journey, including accessibility requirements.

Ask-Annie is an extension of Car Freedom, this was a successful trial held in 2015-2016  in which over 60s in the West Midlands area tested a range of services to support their travel.

The train operator and Viaqqio are working together on this project, which enters the second phase this summer. From 31st August 2018, it is hoped that up to 50 participants will try this service.

Anyone over the age of 65 who lives in the West Midlands area can register their interest to be part of the next phase of the ‘Ask-Annie’ trial launching 31st August by going to www.ask-annie.co.uk or by calling the Freephone number 0808 169 1701.

What did the officials say?

One participant in the initial trial said:

“The Ask-Annie project is an opportunity for users to find cost-effective ways to get out and about the country and to visit areas of interest or friends or just to discover more about where the area where you live. I would recommend that users take advantage of this useful service.”

Steve Cassidy, Director of Viaqqio, said:

“We are thrilled to be back in the West Midlands and offering another trailblazing service for older people. By developing the Ask-Annie service with more and more users we aim to change the face of travel for over 65s.It is exciting to co-design features of the service with users. By improving awareness of what transport exists, providing a way of obtaining support from other travellers as well as operators, and helping people get the best deals and access to new and existing services, members of Ask-Annie will find travel easier.That is our goal!”

Francis Thomas, Head of Corporate Affairs at West Midlands Trains said:

“Everyone is welcome on our trains but a lack of confidence and unfamiliarity can be major barriers among some groups. Ask-Annie is an important part of our commitment to making travel on our network inclusive. We also want to make it easier and simpler for passengers to connect with other types of public transport. Giving our older customers the confidence to take new journeys is a part of that. We appreciate all the feedback from the initial trial group and welcome anyone else who wants to be a part of Ask-Annie to come forward.”