National Rail Enquiries

Wow, what a busy couple of months we’ve had. Lots to update you on:

  • Updates to the website
  • Our response to the latest Which report
  • NRE are award winners!

So far this year we have released an update to the website – this includes further enhancements as part of our Speed Programme which continues to address some of the issues brought up by you since the redesign launched.

More excitingly, we’ve been working with Microsoft to design a new page for Internet Explorer version 9 – Windows users can download IE9 from here and our IE9 page is here.

You may have seen National Rail Enquiries in the news recently following the publication of a report by Which that had asked some questions of our contact centres and also rail staff in ticket offices. We believe that the report is seriously misleading and misrepresentative. Asking 75 questions on obscure scenarios cannot come close to giving a representative view of the 250 million enquiries that are made to us every year. The researchers haven’t actually asked for the cheapest ticket in all the scenarios and even where they have done, they have explicitly excluded the cheapest fares.

Finally, I am very proud that we were judged Rail Business of the Year a few weeks ago at the Rail Business Awards, as well as winning the Supplier Excellence category. We entered our Real Time Journey Planning systems – a world first which is delivering real benefits to you the travelling public.

It’s an honour to win the Rail Business of the Year award. We have a fantastic team that works tirelessly to provide millions of people with helpful, relevant and up-to-date information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Rail Business of the YearBut we’re not complacent. The challenge now will be to continue to adapt and to ensure that we are able to provide passengers and the rest of the sector with the service that they expect and deserve. The way that people access information is changing rapidly, in particular as smartphones become more and more commonplace. Just like any other business, we will need to continue evolving so that we can keep pace with customers’ changing expectations.

You can read more about the awards and who won what on the Rail Professional website here.

11 replies »

  1. “We believe that the report is seriously misleading and misrepresentative. Asking 75 questions on obscure scenarios cannot come close to giving a representative view of the 250 million enquiries that are made to us every year”
    That implies that NRE only has to get the easy questions right, but not the hard ones. NRE needs to get all questions right, plain and simple.

    So: what questions do you think should be asked, and how many?

    • Hi Tom

      Thank you for your comments in response to my section of the blog on the recent Which? report.

      As you’d expect, we always aim to give our customers accurate information to the questions they ask and in the vast majority of cases we do. Our advisors are human and mistakes can occur and we’ll always do our best to apologise and correct them when they happen. The issues we have with the questions asked in the report were that they specifically asked for the most regularly used cheapest tickets to be excluded from the answers to be given, which in practice is not what the majority of genuine customers ask.

      That said, any research highlights areas for improvement and we’re not resting on our laurels and dismissing this report!

      As a result of the report we’re implementing a dedicated mystery shopping programme of our own using the same rare examples as used in the Which? survey. This will be on a much larger scale than the Which? survey and will highlight where any additional training is required while also keeping the knowledge fresh in the advisors’ minds.

      I trust this helps to explain my comments in more detail and thank you again for getting in touch.

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply, and I’m glad to see that NRE is planning a larger-scale survey.
        From other sources, I know some of the questiosn relate to multiple trips where one rover ticket was cheaper than multiple individual tickets. Maybe the toosl used by NRE agents (and the website) should provide alerts about possible valid rovers. It could check what rovers are valid for the trip, and whether the rover:ticket price ratio is something sensible. (E.g. a 7-day rover would need to cost less than 7 times a return ticket to ever be a realistic option).

  2. HOW MANY OF THE 250M DO YOU GET RIGHT CHRIS? IF ALL, THEN YOUR SYSTEM IS PERFECT AND IT SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET THE REALLY HARD ONES RIGHT AS WELL. THAT IT’S NOT SUGGESTS THAT IT IS FALLIBLE AND, THEREFORE, YOU ARE GIVING MISLEADING OR EVEN FRAUDULENT INFORMATION TO CUSTOMERS WHO PAY YOUR WAGES. THIS IS JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH. THE ANSWER SHOULD ALWAYS BE CORRECT.

  3. If my staff had made a mistake in answering a question, I would be apologising as well as explaining that it was an obscure scenario. And just beause staff are not asked for the cheapest scenario, why would a customer not want to be offered that as an option?

  4. Hi Chris,

    I’d like to comment on this:
    “More excitingly, we’ve been working with Microsoft to design a new page for Internet Explorer version 9”

    Could you explain please why in an era where we are trying hard to get rid of proprietary technologies in favour of free, open-source and standards-compliant software you decide to spend money on something that is clearly in favour of a specific commercial product which historicaly doesn’t follow set standards, creating huge issues for developers and users (call me IE6) and which is still in Beta and not even available for users of Windows XP?

    As far as I can see this page doesn’t work properly with any other browser, not even previous versions of IE, so what’s the point of wasting time and money on something like this, instead of improving the experience of your current website for everyone? You know, based on established industry standards that is…

    Kind Regards,
    Anthony

    • Hi Anthony

      Thanks for your comment and apologies for the delay in getting back to you.

      Microsoft approached us to develop a site that makes use of the ‘pinned site’ feature in Internet Explorer 9, and whilst we were developing the website, we make a conscious decision to develop a site that makes use of modern, but open web technology such as HTML5 and CSS3.

      As such, any modern web browser that fully supports these technologies will be able to make use of the functionality of this page. Previous versions of IE will definitely not work with this page, as they don’t support the technologies that we are leveraging.

      We recommend that you try modern browsers are not operating system-dependant, such as Firefox 4, Chrome and Safari version 5 and above.

      It is only if you wish to use the ‘pinned site’ functionality that you will need IE9, as that is a feature currently exclusive to that browser. As always our main site nationalrail.co.uk supports a variety of browsers – you can view the list of supported browsers here: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/site_help/faqs/general_faq.html#supportedbrowsers

      Kind regards
      Lisa

  5. Hi Chris,

    Another great year after the huge redesign in 2009! Looks like 2011 is carrying on the path to make NRE bigger, better and more useful.

    The IE9 site just as a point works in Chrome and Firefox by the way and actually looks much nicer in Chrome than IE … but i’m a lil bias.

    Keep up the great work
    Andy

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