Rail passengers don’t know ‘there’s an app for that’

27 November 2013

Passengers love ‘useful’ apps – but aren’t prepared to pay for rail information.

These findings are part of research into passengers’ views on mobile and tablet apps carried out by the passenger watchdog.

Popular and successful apps tended to be presented clearly and cleanly, up to date and accurate, and a snapshot of a more detailed website. These apps also stuck to a particular topic and didn’t try to do too many things.

Many passengers are simply not aware of the rail apps out there already, although when shown the apps currently available they were impressed with their functionality and presentation.

Passengers are generally prepared to pay for apps which they consider to be exceptional, but most of them are not willing to buy rail apps as they see information about services as a ‘right’ and feel that they have already paid for this information by purchasing a ticket.

The appeal of rail apps will increase as more and more passengers buy smartphones (51 per cent of adults now own a smartphone*). However, rail apps may never appeal to all rail passengers, both in terms of smartphone ownership and willingness to download and use apps. So traditional forms of passenger communication, through staff and notices at stations and on trains, will need to be maintained.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said:
“Mobile apps are increasingly becoming part of our daily lives. The rail industry should continue to develop and promote useful apps. These apps should be free and provide passengers with the latest travel information, allowing them to make informed choices.”
“Equally, this research also shows that apps aren’t for everyone, so the usual ways of providing passengers with information must continue.”

Passenger Focus has published these and other findings in its report, Smart ticketing – mobile apps.

Please press play to see a short video about this research:

Smart ticketing – mobile apps from Passenger Focus on Vimeo.

Please click the link below to download Smart ticketing – mobile apps:


* Ofcom’s 2013 Communications Market Report: United Kingdom

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