Countdown to better information?

27 June 2013

Some of the rail industry’s passenger information systems are getting a makeover.

It has always surprised me that those parts of the railway with good, metro-style service frequencies keep trying to tell me how many minutes late each train is, rather than when the next one will arrive.

Most passengers on a metro service probably just need to know when the next train to their station will be – for example at my local station, Balham, to Victoria. So it’s good to see South West Trains starting to tell passengers when the next train is.

But train companies moving to countdown need to think about two things. Trains on the cusp of being Anytime or Off-Peak need to be distinguished – we don’t want passengers getting Penalty Fares because of this! And some passengers will want reassurance that they are getting on the train their app tells them to catch – or that their ticket tells them they must catch.

Perhaps the best of both worlds is to have the countdown and the scheduled time, as I understand one train company plans to do?

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