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Virgin Trains rolls-out app to keep everyone informed

UK: Inter-city operator Virgin Trains has provided its staff with a mobile app which is designed to enable them to supply passengers with more timely and accurate information during service disruption.

Back on Track was custom developed for Virgin Trains by UP3 and ServiceNow, but the operator told a launch event that it would be happy to discuss making it available to other train operators without seeking a profit.

Virgin Trains’ Chief Information Officer John Sullivan said getting the right information out to frontline staff can be a major problem. ‘Our control centre can get a 1 000 calls a day from staff across the network during disruption’, he said. ‘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.’

Virgin Trains hopes that the number of calls to its control room could be almost halved thanks to the app, and the time to resolve incidents cut by at least 20 min.

‘By getting the most up-to-date information to all our colleagues we ensure that they know what the latest plan is’, Sullivan said. ‘Less time on the phone means they can spend more time helping customers face-to-face’. Frontline staff can also use the app to feed information about the situation on the ground back to control.

‘Virgin Trains has replaced manual processes with digital workflows that ensure the right information reaches employees and customers when they need it’, said Chris Pope, Vice-President of Innovation at ServiceNow.

A parallel development is Track ‘n’ Travel, a customer-facing product which uses the same data as Back on Track to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ where passengers can access real-time details of their journey before departure and while travelling.

‘Track ‘n’ Travel gives customers real time information on exactly what is happening and lets them work out the best route’, said Sullivan. ‘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.’

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