GNER has rolled out new handheld mobile devices, web services and business intelligence tools to improve customer service for passengers.
Following a successful pilot earlier this year using iPaqs, the train firm has now rolled out more than 300 devices to provide staff with information on journey disruptions that can be relayed to passengers.
The iPaqs connect to web-based applications using wireless on board some trains and Bluetooth on the remainder of its fleet.
The firm also hopes to add extra applications for the devices in the near future, including mobile ticketing and journey planners for passengers requiring onward travel.
The .Net-based web services, developed in-house, will also be made available to customers via the internet and Wireless Application Protocol following completion of GNER's current rail franchise bid, said the company's head of information services, Paul Thrustle.
Thrustle told vnunet.com that, following the successful trial of Wi-Fi services for passengers with Scandinavian firm Icomera, GNER plans to deploy internet connectivity for more of its fleet.
"We will roll out Wi-Fi across all our new Mallard trains as they come into circulation and will probably look to retrofit it on existing trains," said Thrustle.
As Wi-Fi and iPaqs become more commonplace on-board its fleet GNER plans to use the devices for logistical purposes and stocktaking.
Thrustle said that Cognos business intelligence software, installed last year, was helping GNER to meet key performance targets set out by regulatory bodies including the Strategic Rail Authority and the Association of Train Operating Companies.
"We are seeing much simpler reporting systems, which are helping our managers make far more informed decisions and look at trends and opportunities in our business.
"It's also helping us monitor employee and customer attitudes and react quickly to passenger needs," he said.
With new software in stations, ticket kiosks and guards' on-board payment devices, GNER hopes to be able to meet the January 2005 Chip and Pin compliance deadline.
"We are making the investment in terms of capital and revenue to meet these requirements," said Thrustle.
"Kiosks have also been improved in line with the Disability Discrimination Act, so that all our customers can benefit from our investment in self-service terminals."
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