From today (Friday 5th June 2020), new technology will mean that train passengers will be alerted to busier trains and stations before they leave home, helping them to stay safe whilst travelling.
A new system from National Rail will tell people who are searching for a journey if the train or station is looking busy. It will take operational messages about busy trains that are sent by staff to control rooms, and within five minutes, they will be displayed on journey planners.
People will see a red or yellow warning when searching for their journey, and by clicking on the warning, they can see more information and advice.
This information will be in addition to a new service that will update passengers on how disruption and overcrowding will affect their journey. Passengers can sign up to alerts from National Rail on ‘Alert Me By Messenger’, with updates also via WhatsApp and SMS.
Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, announced the introduction of the new technology.
Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: With social distancing meaning there is space for fewer people to travel by train, the rail industry will be using technology to help passengers stagger their journeys and stay safe while travelling. The eyes and ears of thousands of frontline staff will let us know if stations or trains are getting busy while cutting-edge data analysis will help us predict spikes in demand, giving passengers the advice they need in the palm of their hands. While people should only go by train if their journey is really necessary, those who do need to travel should sign up for alerts from National Rail and, before setting off, pop online to check the very latest information and avoid the busiest times. We also ask everyone travelling to wear a face covering to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “With capacity reduced to around one fifth of that previously seen on our railways, it is important that people work from home if they can, stagger their travel times to avoid crowds, and use other forms of transport wherever possible. “But for those who need to use the train, it is fantastic to see innovative digital services rolled out to help keep them safe while on the move. Harnessing data and new technology will be crucial both to enable social distancing now, and to modernise the network for the future.”
Alex Froom, Chief Product Officer at Zipabout, said: “We’re looking forward to quickly refining and accelerating this technology in partnership with not only Rail Delivery Group but also the rail operators who most need this capability and information at the moment. By combining our own predictive technology with the additional information that RDG have enabled, we will be able to support every passenger and operator through these challenging times.”
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