A new alert system from National Rail will alert passengers to busy trains before they leave home as part of Covid-19 measures.
As of June 5 the new National Rail system will take operational messages about busy trains and stations that are sent by frontline rail staff to control rooms and this information will be pushed out to journey planning websites and apps “within five minutes”.
Passengers will see a red or yellow warning triangle when they search their journey and by clicking on it, will be able to find out more information and advice.
This journey information will be complemented by a new information service that will update passengers on how disruption and overcrowding will affect their journey.
Passengers can sign up to alerts from National Rail on ‘Alert me by Messenger’, with updates on WhatsApp and SMS being made available over the coming weeks.
The personalised information service, developed by tech start-up Zipabout, uses a range of anonymised data, including journey planning data, to predict how busy a train is likely to be by analysing recent information and comparing it with historic trends.
This in turn allows National Rail Enquiries not only to warn passengers of busy services, allowing them to plan and stagger their journeys, but also to suggest quieter options or alternative routes they can take.
Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “With social distancing meaning there is space for fewer people to travel by train, the rail industry will be using technology to help passengers stagger their journeys and stay safe while travelling.
“The eyes and ears of thousands of frontline staff will let us know if stations or trains are getting busy while cutting-edge data analysis will help us predict spikes in demand, giving passengers the advice they need in the palm of their hands.
“While people should only go by train if their journey is really necessary, those who do need to travel should sign up for alerts from National Rail and, before setting off, pop online to check the very latest information and avoid the busiest times. We also ask everyone travelling to wear a face covering to prevent the spread of the virus.”