All aboard for a pleasant customer experience

Railroad station platformPicture the scene. You’re travelling to an important meeting by rail. You’ve allowed plenty of time so you’re feeling relaxed as you wait in line for a coffee to take onboard with you. Then the announcement every traveler dreads…

“We’re sorry to inform passengers that, owing to a signal failure, trains to all destinations are now subject to delays.”

That scenario is a very real problem that faces thousands of rail passengers every day. However, although disruptions are a fact of life, delays don’t have to be.

The customer is always right

As you know, today’s rail passengers – or customers – are more demanding than ever. The customer experience is paramount and they don’t care what problems you’re facing or what action you must take to put them right. They want mobile ticketing, free onboard wifi and, most of all, 100% punctuality.

That’s all very well in theory, if only your customers knew what your job looked like they’d be a bit more forgiving. Or would they? We think not. Rail companies themselves have successfully raised the bar on customer experience; now these customers can’t be blamed for their high expectations.

So, what are you supposed to do when there’s a disruption? A crew member calls in sick. There’s a line fault somewhere on the network. A locomotive breaks down. Can you respond in time? How long will it take you to get back on schedule? What tools do you use when a disruption messes with your timetable?

Find out how to manage passenger rail disruptions quickly and effectively.

Crushed by a snowball

Speed is key now. You know that the longer things go unresolved the bigger the cumulative problem. A delay of a couple of minutes can quickly snowball into a delay of several hours.

You need to be able to see your plans for crews, rolling stock and tracks immediately, in real time and all in one place. Without total visibility you can’t make the best decision for your passengers.

And making manual changes to your plan is not an option. It’s not fast enough, it’s too laborious and there’s always the risk that you’ll miss something.

Let’s imagine an ideal system.

Your new best friend is smart. It minimizes the consequences of disruptions by:

  • Giving you a complete overview of all disturbances that could influence your operations. (“There is a broken switch on that route; that rail track is occupied with a broken freight train.)
  • Enabling you to test disruption simulations to explore the trade-off between cost and punctuality; (“The extra turnaround needed is X minutes; additional crew will be needed at Y”;)
  • Showing you the impact of potential replanning decisions on your key performance indicators (KPIs) (“This plan is not just feasible but aligned with your business goals.”)
  • Offering you efficient solutions taking into consideration all rules and constraints. (“You cannot bring the train to Platform 6 as it’s not long enough.”)
  • Focusing on getting your customers to their destinations on time. (“This is the fastest route that will minimize the delay.”)

Do you have that ideal, “just in case, I’m covered” system? Can your customers rely on you for that high quality experience? Would you like to see that snowball rolling back up the hill?

Give us your answer in your comment below or drop us a tweet @Quintiq.


Transport & Logistics


Dirk Jekkers.

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Dirk Jekkers

About Dirk Jekkers

I've been working with complex planning puzzles in the passenger rail industry for more than 5 years. What's fascinating about this industry is the huge impact decisions have on service levels and operational costs. As a business consultant for Rail and Public Transport, I get the chance to work with rail operators from all over the world in helping them make accurate decisions for their rail planning.