An industry first – SWR launch boarding assistance service for customers
South Western Railway (SWR) has announced the launch of Assisted Boarding Points, the rail industry’s first assistance service for passengers, allowing for a far more efficient travel experience.
Credit: Southern Western Railway (SWR)
A number of SWR stations will now play host to dedicated Assisted Boarding Points on station platforms. At these spots, commuters can WhatsApp or call a dedicated customer service team, who are available from the first to last train. SWR’s customer service team will contact the guard on the next available service in order to deliver a streamlined and efficient assistance when the train arrives. The service, however, requires customers to give just 10 minutes notice prior to travelling.
Christian Neill, Deputy Customer Experience Director at SWR, commented: “We know that not every journey is planned in advance, and indeed they shouldn’t have to be. We’re proud to be launching this industry-first service, which will make it markedly easier for our customers who require assistance to travel with minimum fuss or difficulty. This is just one way in which we’re boosting the accessibility of our network and helping all of our customers to travel with confidence”.
On SWR station platforms, there will be clear signage for the Assisted Boarding Points including a QR code for customers to scan. Instantly, commuters will be able to message the dedicated service team with details of their journey via WhatsApp, as well as a direct telephone number. Customers are required to provide details of their departure station, destination station and the type of assistance they require e.g. a wheelchair ramp, support getting onto the train due to a visual impairment, reduced mobility or an injury. The guard will also help the passenger upon arrival to ensure an overall safe travel experience.
Alan Benson, Chair of Transport for All, said: “Getting help on and off the train is vital for disabled people travelling, and this is the most common source of problems. Anything that makes this easier has to be welcomed. This initiative by SWR puts disabled travellers in control of their own journeys and will give them the confidence that is too often missing.”
Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of Transport Focus, commented: “We know from our research that elderly and disabled passengers don’t always receive the help they need when travelling by rail. This new boarding service will enable people to request assistance more easily, without the need to pre-book.”
The service is currently live at a number of stations including: Surrey, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset and Devon however, the system will be launched across the entirety of the South Western Railway network – in total, to 189 stations and 417 platforms.