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Rail chiefs vow to improve data on train delays

from: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/transport/rail-chiefs-vow-to-improve-data-on-train-delays.17459591

Rail chiefs vow to improve data on train delaysDamien Henderson
Transport Correspondent.RAIL passengers have been promised improved information about train delays following complaints about how problems were handled during recent severe winters.
  DAMIEN HENDERSON Transport Correspondent
ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery said a £2 million investment made last year in preparation for winter had helped produce a dramatic growth in the number of people accessing its website and receiving real-time updates about services on their mobile phones.

He said informing passengers during disruption was a top priority and the changes made placed ScotRail at the forefront of the industry in terms of communications.

Despite achieving record passenger satisfaction levels last year, ScotRail, which provides more than 95% of rail passenger journeys in Scotland, has suffered growing dissatisfaction over how it handles delays.

A survey by rail watchdog Passenger Focus published last autumn found only 34% of passengers were satisfied with how the company dealt with delays, a significant drop from 44% last year.

Mr Montgomery said: "We have transformed how we do business from 18 months ago."

The company was now hoping for better results from the next passenger satisfaction survey due to be published later this year by Passenger Focus.

Mr Montgomery added. "I would be disappointed if we didn't see some improvement in that area but I accept it's always a challenge."

The disruption experienced during January 2010 and the following November and December, when the rail network was paralysed by the most persistent sub-zero temperatures on record, is thought to have accelerated a shift already under way among the public to receiving train information via the web.

Among the changes introduced last year were a mobile phone app downloaded by nearly 20,000 people by January this year, and a new traffic- light system on the website for advising passengers on the extent of disruption on different routes.

ScotRail's journey alert service, which sends texts to passengers to advise of delays, has nearly 35,000 users, while there has also been a boom in use of social media, with the train operator's Twitter feed followed by 16,000 people.

ScotRail has also given Blackberry phones to 800 on-train staff to access instant information tto passengers.

The developments were welcomed by Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, who said passengers would "judge for themselves" if they were effective.


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