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Innovations introduced to help Virgin Trains customers during disruption

Press release   •   Jun 24, 2019 08:00 BST

Track 'n' Travel (left) and Back on Track (right)
  • Two major tech innovations set to change the industry
  • New app for staff called Back on Track is a global first for a travel company
  • Track ‘n Travel will give customers real time updates on disruptions

Two major tech innovations developed by Virgin Trains to improve customer service at times of major disruption – ‘Back on Track’ and ‘Track ‘n Travel’ – are set to change the industry.

In a global first for a transport company, the new ‘Back on Track’ app now connects teams both behind the scenes and on the frontline across the network during periods of disruption.

The improved communication and coordination means front line staff can outline up to the minute, accurate information to customers. This could include alternative routes and information on ticket acceptance.

Co- created by the digital workflow company ServiceNow for Virgin Trains, the bespoke app is now being regularly used by hundreds of Virgin Trains employees across its UK network.

The second development is Track ‘n’ Travel, which is fuelled by the same data which Back on Track uses and is a one-stop shop for customers to review their journey pre and post departure in real time. This now means there is one source of truth, for staff and customers alike.

It is the main feature of a new onboard portal vthub.uk - recently launched alongside free Wi-Fi on Virgin Trains. It will also be built into the Virgin Trains website, giving customers up to date disruption information directly to their smart phones.

With both developments, it means Virgin Trains’ customers will be able to have seamless, up-to-date information to help them navigate their journeys during rail disruption.

Chief Information Officer at Virgin Trains, John Sullivan said: “Our main problem at times of disruption is simple - thousands of Virgin Trains colleagues trying to find out the latest information to communicate to as many as 100,000 customers.

“Our Control Centre can get a thousand calls a day from staff across the network during disruption. If the information they need is instantly available on their mobile, there’s no need to make that call, freeing up control to deal with the root cause.”

Estimates predict that calls to inbound teams could reduce by nearly 50 percent and reduce times to resolve incidents by at least 20 minutes.

“By getting the most up-to-date information to all our colleagues we ensure that they know what the latest plan is,” John Sullivan added. “Less time on the phone means they can spend more time helping customers face to face, and they can feed information about the situation on the ground back to Control via the app.”

He continued: “Track ‘n’ Travel gives customers real time information on exactly what is happening and lets them work out the best route. Disruption inevitably does happen - we want to give our customers the best information to get them where they’re going in the quickest and safest way possible.”

Jason Webb, Customer Information Director at the Rail Delivery Group, representing the rail industry, said: “Rail companies are working together to improve communication with passengers throughout their journey, with the aim of ensuring people can get the information they need, when they need it. The technical innovations developed by Virgin will help to drive forward further improvement across the industry and boost trust in the information people are provided.”

Chris Pope, VP Innovation, ServiceNow said: “Rail disruption can have a dramatic impact on customer and employee satisfaction. Through digital transformation, Virgin Trains is accelerating the industry towards a personalised rail experience that puts the customer experience front and centre. Using our platform, Virgin Trains has replaced manual processes with digital workflows that ensure the right information reaches employees and customers when they need it—fast, simple, easy – and importantly, putting the focus back on creating great experiences for all.”

Notes to editors

Track ‘n’ Travel can be found on https://track-travel.virgintrains.co.uk/

Back on Track was delivered by UP3, who are ServiceNow’s professional service partner in the UK.

About Virgin Trains

Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the West Coast inter-city route under the Virgin Trains brand, revolutionising travel on one of the UK’s key rail arteries.

The network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester 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 ahead of other long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.

Virgin Trains has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme, introducing the industry-leading onboard entertainment streaming service, BEAM, and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.

Virgin Trains operated the East Coast route between March 1, 2015 and June 24, 2018. In that time, we invested £75m to create a more personalised travel experience, including over £40m in the existing fleet. Customers have benefitted from 48 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 2015.

Working together, the partnership railway of the public and private sectors has published a long-term plan, called In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity, to change and improve Britain’s railway. The plan will secure almost £85bn of additional economic benefits to the country whilst enabling further investment and improvement, and contains four commitments which will see rail companies: strengthen our economic contribution to the country; improve customers’ satisfaction; boost the communities we serve; and, create more and better jobs in rail. For more information go to Britain Runs on Rail.

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Press Office: 0845 000 3333.