National Rail Enquiries Launches ‘Alert Me by WhatsApp’

National Rail Enquiries has launched a new travel information channel, called ‘Alert Me by WhatsApp’, for rail passengers in the UK.

Alert Me by Whatsapp
Alert Me by Whatsapp

This new service uses AI and prediction technology developed by Zipabout and was then integrated with WhatsApp to deliver real-time personalised journey updates for passengers before they depart for the station. This therefore delivers personalised journey information to passengers through a messaging service they already use.

Alex Froom, Chief Executive, Zipabout, said:

“WhatsApp is the most popular app in the UK and presents a great opportunity for the rail industry to engage with a huge audience. Alert Me by WhatsApp is not a chatbot and is the first instance of anyone using the app to share personalised updates in real-time on their preferred, pre-existing communication channels.”

In order to access the service, passengers first need to plan their journey on the National Rail Enquiries website and then selecting ‘Keep me updated by WhatsApp’. The updates include information on the train’s level of occupancy, which is based on forecast demand data, disruption information and alternative travel routes. Passengers who opt into the service between now and October can also receive free coffees and newspapers from station retailers as part of a retail pilot to get people to return to the railways. Rewards of this nature will also be available to passengers who take alternative services if the one they have selected is predicted to be busy.

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which manages National Rail on behalf of the rail industry, said:

“As people working from home begin commuting to their place of work again, we want to ensure they’re able to travel with confidence, which is why we are providing passengers access to personalised journey information via the channels they use the most. Customers who use the National Rail Alert Me service and travel frequently, or decide to take a less busy train if their chosen service is predicted to be busy, could get themselves a free drink or snack as part of a Retail Pilot that we're exploring as one of the ways to incentivise people back to rail.”

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