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Smartphones issued to 850 South West Trains guards in drive to improve passenger communication


· Guard on every train service will have access to better information
· Follows feedback from passengers about the need for improved information
· Part of package of customer information improvements

South West Trains has announced plans to provide smartphones to more than 850 of its front line customer service staff in a drive to improve real-time communication with passengers. BlackBerry devices will be issued to all South West Trains guards, as well as a number of frontline staff, including station managers and many platform staff.

The significant investment by South West Trains means that its customer service staff will have access to better quality information about services as well as detailed, up-to-date information about any disruption on the network.

Through the smartphones, staff will be able to access the internal Live Departure Board providing an enhanced level of information for passengers, as well as other travel websites such as National Rail Enquiries and Transport for London to help with queries about onward connections.  South West Trains also has plans to launch a mobile version of its website which will be easily accessible for passengers and for staff to access information for passengers through their smartphones.

Andy Pitt, Managing Director for South West Trains, said:  “As one of the busiest commuter rail networks in Europe, we know how important it is to provide timely, accurate and good quality information to the thousands of passengers who use our services every day.

“Our passengers are generally very pleased with the punctual service we offer, but we know from their feedback that we need to provide better information during times of disruption.

“This package of investment means that every single South West Trains’ service will have a guard with access to the most up-to-date information to keep passengers informed.”

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said: “This is welcome news, giving smartphones to front line staff will help get accurate information to passengers quickly. Passengers understand that sometimes things go wrong but what they want is to know what’s happened, how long it’s going to take to fix and when they are going to get moving again – this information allows people to plan their journey and avoid hotspots if necessary”.

The BlackBerrys will replace a pager system used by the Network Rail/South West Trains integrated control centre based at London Waterloo to send messages to conductors and front line staff.  The roll-out of BlackBerry devices will provide a significant improvement on this current method of communication.

The roll-out of BlackBerrys to all South West Trains guards is due to start in mid September and will be fully complete by March 2012.

This initiative is part of a wider package of improvements to improve customer information and improved processes for dealing with disruption.