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Online rail enquiry system relieves call centre traffic during storms

Karl Flinders

National Rail Enquiries' Online Journey Planner has helped the company to cope with a massive increase in the number of calls during this week's bad weather (10 March).

The Online Journey Planner system, which was launched in 2003, helped relieve the pressure on the company's call centre, which had three times the usual number of calls during the stormy weather that wreaked havoc on the UK's rail system.

Chris Scoggins, chief executive at the company, said on a normal Monday there would be 60,000 calls, but this week saw 180,000 would-be travellers picking up the phone. "Having the online system allowed us to deal with this," Scoggins said.

The application was developed by Transeo and sits on servers in two datacentres in case of disaster. "It is a highly resilient, high-performance platform built to handle seamless transition in the event of disaster," said Scoggins.

Passengers are increasingly visiting the site or using other self-service options such as WAP and SMS instead of the call centre. The online journey planner has so far been used 125 million times in the most recent financial year ending this month. This is up from 100 million last year. In comparison, the telephone enquiries system had 20 million requests this year.


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