A Digital Age: How Technology is Benefitting Rail Customers
31st May 2019
The UK rail industry is undergoing dramatic change, and there’s no doubt that technology is at the forefront; and rightly so. There are so many opportunities for new technologies to improve the industry and help combat existing issues.
There are a fair few challenges to overcome. Rail infrastructure is aging, punctuality is a common commuter gripe, and trains are overcrowded – our network includes some of the most used lines in Europe, and there are no signs of it slowing down. Rail use has doubled since the mid 1990s and looks set to increase by another 15% by 2025. So it’s more important than ever that the industry moves with the times, to benefit companies, staff – and, importantly, passengers. After all, “the data and digital revolution can have huge benefit for passengers and people who want to travel”.
So, how does new technology benefit rail customers? The list is extensive. A number of recent advances have proven their worth, and there are many more are in the pipeline.
Improved operational performance
The Joint Rail Data Action Plan outlines the intention for rail firms to work more closely with tech companies, to give more reliable service.
Sharing train network data with third parties has already resulted in huge benefits for customers – travel apps such as Trainline and Citymapper use this data to give real-time predictions of arrival, all-round journey times and routes.
Plans for the UK network to switch from the traditional block signalling system to digital signalling will greatly improve service and should even reduce overcrowding – the new system’s ability to identify each train and optimise space on the tracks, will allow more trains to run.
Better travel information
We’ve already touched on the impact of travel apps, allowing quick and easy route planning, following in real-time.
On-board GPS systems were introduced to some trains from January, allowing far more accurate pinpointing of their location. Currently, locations are taken only from certain points, which can be miles apart. The adoption of GPS will mean that arrival times and delays can be accurately reported, and digital train control technology will communicate directly with stations, so arrival times can be predicted to the second. This is bound to have a marked effect on passengers – research has shown that they’re most anxious when faced with uncertainty, such as when waiting on a platform.
GTR is piloting technology that weighs each carriage, and shows on-screen how busy they are, and whether toilets are in use. As more trains are fitted with such technologies, journeys will become easier and more pleasant.
Improved customer service & understanding
The collection of data regarding train services and journeys undertaken, helps train operating companies understand what rail customers want and need, allowing the industry to constantly improve.
Use of collected data is possible on an individual level too. CRM software allows rail companies to store all data on a particular customer in one place, such as personal information, journey history and previous communication. This allows better customer service to be provided in the event that the customer gets in touch. It also gives the opportunity for greater understanding, and to tailor any marketing – meaning that customers feel that they’re understood on a personal level.
The success of recent advances shows just how valuable technology is in improving the passenger experience, and the rail industry as a whole. In order to stay relevant in this digital age, and operate to the best of our ability, the rail industry mustn’t only stay up to date – but one step ahead of the game.
If you would like to know more about how you can utilise tailored CRM software to improve your customer experience, then please do get in touch.