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Are rail passengers getting too much information?

April 30, 2013
Author: Philip Martin

At an industry event “Transforming Passenger Information” there was much debate about improving the “up-to-dateness” (if that’s a word) of information sent to rail travellers, especially during disruption.

Railways are putting much effort into providing train information to the traveller through the most effective channels. “We only have a mobile strategy” one speaker announced, “Make sure your website is mobile friendly” another presenter stated.

However, Riccardo Santoro from Ferrovi dello Stato Italiane (Italian state railways)  looked at it from another angle, “are we giving the customer too much information? People are not asking for information they are asking for help, and therefore we are giving them too much work for them to decipher the information” It’s a good point… whereas ensuring you know what time the train is arriving and departing should be taken for granted, perhaps there needs to be more work around reacting to peoples requests – people technology.

An example of information overload was brought up by an article way back in 2009 in The Telegraph, has it got worse or better?

Social media has been a successful and effective form of media to communicate with passengers, with most railways hiring people to tweet all day. I wish I had a job where I tweeted all day…. was one of the selection criteria from London Midland railways on what makes a good tweeter, also… company knowledge, alternative routes, link with control, the patience of a saint, very thick skin and more tongue in cheek…stalking ability.

Their policy on tweeting is >friendly and helpful advice< and has been highly rated by customers. This was agreed by the railways present at the event that Twitter has changed the way they are able to communicate, and it’s targeted, relevant, information – and personalised people technology.

Anthony Smith, CEO of Passenger Focus stated that information has to be timely, accurate, consistent and useful, and it seems that Twitter covers these needs, but at the end of the day may not cover all customer segments.

Reinventing rail in europe: the battle for the customer



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Reinventing rail in europe:
the battle for the customer

The Battle for the Customer will ask how rail can use it to strengthen customer focus and look to other industries for best practices in terms of the strategies and mindsets that drive change.