Rail industry hopes to attract commuters with launch of new WhatsApp service

UK rail passengers returning after the summer holidays can now access customised real-time travel information for their journeys through WhatsApp.

The launch of ‘Alert me by WhatsApp’ by National Rail Enquiries marks a step-change in passenger communications by delivering personalised journey information directly through the channels people use the most.

The new service uses AI and prediction technology developed by British company Zipabout and integrated with WhatsApp to generate and deliver real-time personalised journey updates for passengers before they head to the station. Updates include real-time details of delays, disruption and alternative travel routes.

This is a brilliant new way of making rail journeys even easier,” said Rail Minister Chris Heaton. “By sending helpful updates through the apps people already use, passengers can get the information they need quickly, simply and wherever they are on the rail network.”

Anyone using the Alert Me service between now and October can also opt-in to receive rewards from train station retailers during their journey.

“Customers who use the National Rail Alert Me service and travel frequently, or decide to take a less busy train if their chosen service is predicted to be busy, could get themselves a free drink or snack as part of a retail pilot we’re exploring as one of the ways to incentivise people back to rail,” said Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

Passengers travelling to select stations will receive an e-voucher that will give them up to one hour to redeem their free drink, snack or newspaper at participating retailers.

Rail passengers can access the new service by planning their journey using the National Rail Enquiries website and clicking ‘Keep me updated by WhatsApp’.

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