Train staff to get Blackberrys

Mobile phones to replace pagers as South West Trains launches drive to improve communication with passengers.

GUARDS on South West Trains are to be given Blackberry phones in a drive to improve communication with passengers.

More than 850 phones are to be distributed to staff, including station managers, as the company replaces its current pager system.

The company says the investment will provide customer service staff with access to better quality information about services, as well as detailed, up-to-date information about any disruption on the network.

Through the smartphones, they 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.

Managing director Andy Pitt 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.

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“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.”