National Rail Enquiries

Blog time again, April passed by in a whirr of activity, this month I’m going to be talking about:

  • The Network Rail strike that wasn’t
  • Ash-struck Britain
  • Improvements to our homepage

During the end of March and into early April, my team spent a lot of time working with train companies to find out their plans for running trains if the planned strike by some Network Rail employees belonging to RMT and TSSA unions was to go ahead.  As can sometimes be the way, we’d put in a lot of effort to publicise what trains would be running only for the strike to be prevented by the High Court.

The team swung into action to quickly roll back the information in our systems to take out the strike timetables and revert to the week’s normal trains.  I’m pleased to say the team managed to do that quicker than we thought, and everything was back to normal within a couple of hours of the strike being called off!

We’d just gotten over that excitement when the UK was hit by the volcanic ash cloud, and all air travel to and from the UK was grounded.  National Rail Enquiries saw an increase in calls received of about 10%.  We deployed our normal contingencies to cope with increased demand and performed well.  Many of the questions we were asked mirrored the fact that people could not get into the UK by air, so heavily centred on European train travel and the availability of ferries.

The rail industry did its bit to help get passengers to where they needed to be with train companies running extra trains and putting on extra carriages to try to help people travel.

Looking forward to some improvements, over the past week or two we’ve made some changes to the site to respond to your feedback.  I’d received a number of comments about the site being slow and adverts hiding text.  The web team have been working hard to resolve these issues and a number of things have changed which should speed the site up, and help you find your information quicker and easier.

One of the major changes is to our Live Departure Boards.  There’ve been a number of suggestions / comments and complaints.  Changes have been made to the design to make it more in keeping with the rest of the website, as well as fixing the problems with checking arrivals.  Why not have a look and let me know what you think?

And finally, I’ve enabled comments on this blog – at first they’re going to be moderated whilst I get a feel for the type of response I’m going to get.  But I hope that it helps to show that I want to engage in a conversation with you – tell me what you like and what we can do better!

20 replies »

  1. Hey Chris.

    Couple of things I wanted to suggest.

    1. Get rid of the top part of the NRE website. The bit with the banner ad and the analogue clock. It’s completely pointless. The clock looks nice, but everyone has the a clock on their computer in the the task/menu bar. Also the clock is done in Flash so it doesn’t work on devices like the iPad.

    2. Add full platform details for departures and arrivals at Leeds train station!

    3. Maybe use Get Satisfaction (getsatisfaction.com) to get suggestions for improvements to NRE from customers?

  2. Hi Chris,

    Had made a ‘contact us’ comment before finding your blog.
    Left home on 11th. Once past the slow front screen of Live Deps/Arrs, things were fine on the old style boards. Could follow precise details of each stop, and easily swap to progress of connecting trains. Returning on 14th… It’s been changed! I’ve lost half the detail I had before. Even allowing for VT WiFi being faster than EC, things were better on Tuesday.
    The old point to point selector for live deps was also quicker and more reliable.
    It’s all very well making things pretty for those that like that sort of thing, but the detail is most important thing to travellers.

    Cheers
    David

  3. I am Traveling across London via Liverpool Street Station, but due to my travel areengements I have to wait 7 hours till the evening train.
    Are there any LEFT-BAGGAGE ofices department in this station or Kings Cross station which I could leave my bags for 6 hours?. Paying od course.

    Dominic

  4. I would love to be able to endorse the NRE website, but it continues to be frustratingly unreliable and indeed inferior to the old “vanilla” site in this respect. Drop-down menus frequently don’t work, boxes often disappear or overlay new information, pocket timetable still doesn’t seem to be working properly, and can’t get full details of multiple train journeys at a time (e.g. to see whether one has different routes or change points on different options). I raised these matters some weeks back via the main website but the response was unhelpful and gave no idea of when, if ever, they would be fixed. Basically, the new website does not seem to have been thoroughly tested or debugged before it was released (maybe not tried on enough alternative platforms). Different problems on both my work and home computers. It’s extremely frustrating and time-wasting given that the website is the only way to find out train times; I wonder how many people give up and simply take the car instead, adding to our carbon footprint. Finally, why do Live Deps/Arrs boards now need to specify both start and finish stations so that the option of just seeing all trains at your local station has been lost? A retrograde step.

    • Ian

      Sorry for the delay in replying, I only just saw your post.

      Regarding the problems you’re experiencing with menus not working. Can you tell me what browser and version you’re using? We implemented some fixes to speed up the drop down lists a few weeks ago, have you seen any improvement?

      You do not need to input “from” and “to” for live departures/arrivals. If you’re checking departures, the “From” is mandatory, and if you’re checking arrivals, the “At” is.

      Cheers
      Lisa

  5. Please bring back the old website. The home page now takes forever to load, and the live departure board has been altered so you can no longer see arrivals and departures at the same time, and worse than that it rarely works at all.

    I’ve reverted to accessing the WAP site on my phone a few times as it is now the only way to get live departure information.

  6. Hi,

    I’m trying to find information on the hours for left luggage at York station but there aren’t any hours of operation available under “General Services” on the website…can you please provide me with this information?

    Thanks,
    Tamara

  7. I travel daily from Wigan to Altrincham and when I check NRE, I’m just wanting train details NOT Metrolink (due to the extra ticketing expense that trams entail).

    Would it therefore be possible to have a facility that allows one to opt in or out of methods of transport other than trains?

  8. I can’t find anywhere to leave comments or feedback on the rail enquiries web site, but I want to find out what is going wrong with an enquiry I’ve been trying to make.

    I’d like to travel from Lancing to Windermere on Sunday 4 July leaving at about 10.00. When I give this as a query, the results show only trains the following day, and asking for earlier trains gives no sensible options for 4 July. However, if I separately ask for journeys from Lancing to Oxenholme and Oxenholme to Windermere, there seem to be plenty of good choices. What’s going wrong with the original query?

      • Just looking through past blogs and comments – they make very interesting reading.

        Although it is now 5 months ago, I think I can cast some light on Peter’s problem with the Lancing – Windermere journey. Because July 4th was a Sunday, there are no through journeys from Lancing to Victoria, and the journey to Windermere involved 4 changes at Brighton, Victoria, Euston and Oxenholme. For daytime journeys, NRE seems to impose a limit of 3 changes and so will not find any journeys until the next day (Monday). This problem occurs again for next Sunday (28/11) and also occurs for journeys that day from Lancing to anywhere north of London requiring a change of train (e.g. Harrogate, Blackpool). This restriction has been around for a while, and I first noticed it in 2006 for a journey from Bridlington to Redhill involving changes at Hull, Doncaster, Kings Cross and Victoria. I was told then that journeys involving 4 changes were felt to be complex and very rarely actually occurred – however, David’s experience suggests that other people experience the same problem.

  9. Hi,

    I’m trying to find information on the hours for left luggage at York station but there aren’t any hours of operation available under “General Services” on the website…can you please provide me with this information?

    Thanks,
    Tamara

  10. When looking at entries on the “Changes to train times” section, there’s the bit that says “click here for further details”. So, I click and find just the same information as before, with nothing extra. Also, what happened to entries in the “Cleared disruptions” section. None at all for some weeks. Some tidying needed, perhaps?

  11. Agree with many of the above comments. New site is slow..cannot get menus to drop down…finding Sunday enginering works is difficult, and frequently the info is incorrect. Old site was so much clearer and more efficient. Worst of all, NRE does not know the difference between St. Pancras International and St. Pancras Domestic, so that train timings are wrong.eg. if you look for High Speed trains from Faversham to St. Pancras Int (the correct station) it tells you that the trains only go to St. Pancras Domestic, and you have to change trains and travel another 20 minutes or so to get to the International station! What!!!! For a NRE service, this is shocking. Have e-mailed before about this, and other mis-information, but received unhelpful replies. Time and again, have rung NRE or used website for info about engineering works on a Sunday, told there is nothing, arrived at the station and found buses! Station staff lift their eyes heavenwards if one mentions NRE to them…something is wrong somewhere along the line! pun not intended.

  12. Come on Chris, what’s the hold-up? Let’s knock things into shape, this aint no blame game. The country’s relying on you!

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