Introducing the new Passenger Assist app

Source: RTM Dec/Jan 19

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, explains how a new app developed for the rail industry will revolutionise passenger assistance for customers.

In a first for Britain’s transport sector, the rail industry is pressing ahead with an app that will transform the way that people with a disability can book assistance when they travel by train to make it easier, less stressful, and less likely to go wrong. The app, currently being trialled by four train companies, will be rolled out across Britain this year to revolutionise passenger assistance, making it easier for customers to book help at stations and get a more consistent and reliable service.

The vast majority (85%) of customers are satisfied with passenger assistance according to the ORR, but we know we’ve got to do better. We want everyone who has requested assistance to get the help they need, from people with disabilities to parents with prams to elderly people. That’s why we’re investing in pioneering technology that has the needs of our customers at its heart.

The new Passenger Assist app, developed by Transreport for the rail industry, will:

  • Enable customers to book, change, and cancel assistance quickly, which can currently take up to 40 minutes over the phone;
  • Allow customers to create a user profile, specifying their personal details and the type of assistance they need, so that recurring bookings are quicker;
  • Provide staff with live information, including key details about the customer and their journey, so they can provide a better service and accommodate short-notice requests;
  • Ensure better staff communication so staff can anticipate and deliver changes in planned assistance.

A few taps of the app will give customers more control, help our people do their jobs better, and deliver on our commitment to enable more people to benefit from travelling by train. It will revolutionise the currently time-consuming booking process for customers and improve the back-end system for staff so that they can keep up with changing plans.

We have developed this app in collaboration with disability charities. It includes accessible features, such as the ability to change colour themes, fonts, and text sizes.

In partnership with disability rights groups, we are making the railway more accessible to more people. Between 2014 and 2019, we are increasing the 450 step-free railway stations across the country by 110. We are also designing a universal ramp to make it easier for people in wheelchairs to board and alight from trains, as currently there are 25 ramps to fit different trains and platforms.

The app will be rolled out across the network in autumn 2019 once a staff version has been rolled out in April and after trials ensure it works effectively.

The investment into innovative technology is part of the railway’s commitment to put customers in control of their rail journeys. National Rail is trialling new technology created by transport tech specialists Zipabout that provides personalised travel information through Facebook Messenger. Customers who take part in the trial can sign up to receive notifications about any disruptions to their journey via the ‘keep me updated’ button, which is visible to all users as part of the nationwide trial.


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