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Industry first disruption dodging tool launches

Press Release   •   Oct 04, 2017 07:00 BST

  • First tool to show alternative routes and multi-modal transport options
  • Live real-time delay estimates in customers' hands
  • Travellers to be warned of disruption before getting stuck

Virgin Trains today launches an industry first tool aimed at helping customers avoid rail disruption on their journey and get to their destination. TrainMapper, powered by Google Maps and National Rail Enquiries, will allow passengers to check in real-time travel information, delay predictions and find alternative routes to avoid getting stuck in disruption.

Where previously customers needed to check individual train operator websites, social media or even go to the station to get up to date travel information and alternative routes, TrainMapper is a one-stop-shop available in the palm of their hands. The tool displays disruption on all operators and will not only help customers spot where any problems might delay their journey, but also predict how long the delay might be and show what routes they can take instead. The aim is to put more information in the hands of customers, meaning they can make decisions about alternative routes if their original journey is disrupted.

The tool has been developed by Virgin Trains, Southeastern and the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and displays disruption information for passengers across the UK’s rail network. It will be available exclusively to Virgin Trains customers on its east coast website and app for three months. During this time, users will be invited to submit feedback on the launch version which will be used to inform later updates to the tool. After three months, it will be made available to other train operators, for them to roll out to customers.

Virgin Trains has majority-funded the development of the tool from its £25m Innovation Fund which aims to revolutionise the customer experience on the east coast and pave the way for other train operators to do the same.

Customers will be able to access the TrainMapper via the Virgin Trains East Coast mobile app or website and it can be used from common devices such as tablet, mobile and laptop/desktop.

The tool will display maps and information that will allow customers to see:

  • A colour-coded guide to how severe any disruption is and an indication of how it might affect journeys
  • Alternative routes they can take around any disruption that is expected to last longer than 30 minutes
  • Arrival and departure information for each station
  • Views of stations and information about facilities

Warrick Dent, Safety and Operations at Virgin Trains on the east coast said: “Virgin Trains has a strong track record of innovation, and TrainMapper is the latest example of how we’re giving our customers more control. We work hard to avoid disruption affecting our customers wherever possible and we want to put more information into the hands of our customers to allow them to make the most informed decision possible, whether that’s to delay their journey or take an alternative route. This tool will be fed by real time information so the latest live updates and travel information is all shown in one place. We know how frustrating it can be when services are delayed, which is why we’re not only investing in our stations and trains, but also in new technology that we hope will help customers make decisions about how they travel.”

Jacqueline Starr, Managing Director of Customer Experience at the Rail Delivery Group – which brings together train operators and Network Rail to enable a better railway - said: "TrainMapper is a great example of how rail companies are working together to help train travellers make even better informed choices about their journeys. And billions of pounds are being invested to deliver a more reliable railway, making journeys better now and for the long-term.”

Notes to editors:

TrainMapper can be found: https://www.virgintrainseastcoast.com/trainmapper/

The tool is powered by a combination of Google Maps API for Work products and by information from DARWIN (the national real-time train information database).

About Virgin Trains:

Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the East Coast and West Coast inter-city routes under the Virgin Trains brand. Together, they are on track to revolutionise rail travel across the UK.

The combined network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, York and London.

Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.

On the East Coast route, £140m is being invested to create a more personalised travel experience. We have already invested over £40m in our existing fleet, including £21m refurbishing the interiors and £16m towards improving the engines of our trains. Customers can now benefit from 42 additional services between Edinburgh and London every week, and an extra 22 Saturday services between Leeds and London – a total of 1.74 million additional seats since May 2016. 2018 will see the introduction of completely new Azuma trains being built in the UK by Hitachi.

The West Coast route has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.

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