Network Rail and GWR are trialling a new information service designed to provide passengers with more enhanced travel information about train services during delays and disruption.
The trial launched today (Tuesday 26 October) and will run until late November and covers train services operating on Network Rail’s Western route which runs from Paddington to Penzance and includes services in Devon, Cornwall, Oxfordshire, Thames Valley, the Cotswolds, Wiltshire and South Wales.
This enhanced passenger information service will operate Monday to Friday from 6.30am-7.30pm and utilise rainbow boards in Network Rail’s three managed stations (Paddington, Reading and Bristol Temple Meads) and weather report-style video reports on @NetworkRailWest and @GWRHelp on Twitter to enable passengers to make more informed decisions when travelling on the train.
The video report updates will seek to fill the gap passengers face when incidents have just occurred and operational teams are working hard to resume train services. This doesn’t happen very often but when it does it’s hard for passengers to understand what is happening across the network and how they might be impacted, so filling this gap in information is designed to help reduce passengers’ frustration.
Similar to the London underground, the rainbow boards will be displayed in London Paddington, Reading and Bristol Temple Meads with updates on services using an easy-to-understand colour coding (green, amber, red or black) dependent on the condition of those services.
Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “Passengers deserve accurate, rapid and clear information about their journeys. When things go wrong and people face delays, the whole rail industry should go above and beyond to help passengers get to where they want to be as quickly and smoothly as possible.
“This fantastic new service will play an important role in providing simple and reliable information, putting the priorities of passengers first.”
Nicky Hughes, Wales & Western communications director, said: “We know how frustrating it can be when delays happen, and passengers don’t know how this will impact their journey.
“We know that much of the time passengers get information on delays quite quickly, but when we have significant incidents, like last week’s flooding, it can take a while before train services start and until this happens passengers often struggle to understand what’s going on.
“We hope this trial will help close that gap. If it’s well received and helps improve passengers’ experience, we will look to introduce it on a permanent basis.”
GWR Performance Director, Barry Milsom, said: “Great Western Railway was among the first train operators to offer real-time customer information via social media more than a decade ago, and we have been updating that service ever since.
“This joint trial allows us to work even more closely with Network Rail colleagues to provide more in-depth information about what is causing delays, what is being done to resolve them and how customers can continue their journeys.”
David Sidebottom, director at the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Passengers tell us that they need accurate, timely and personalised information when there is disruption. Reliable information is vital to help them plan, avoid busier services and manage any delays or disruption to their journey.”
Photo credit: Network Rail