FirstGroup CIO says managers don’t see the problems users face


davelynchFirstGroup chief information officer Dave Lynch at last week’s HackTrain Conference


FirstGroup chief information officer Dave Lynch is planning to push for rail passes to be removed from managers at the group’s train operating companies so that they can experience the frustrations passengers face in using the system first hand. He challenged other owning groups to work with First to implement the plan at all operators.

Speaking at the HackTrain Conference in London last week, Lynch said the shock tactic would be designed to wake managers up to the issues customers face and the need for innovation and solutions.

“For me we need to challenge ourselves,” he said. “One of the ways I am looking at that in our organisation is taking railway passes away from people in the railway. I challenge us all for a month, it would be better if it were on an industry basis, to start to use the technology we put the customers in front of, because I guarantee that we would have a darned sight more innovation at the end of the month.”

As an example from his own experience of how the system is not working for customers, Lynch said that his friends in his home town of Blackpool never buy tickets themselves and instead ask him to do it because he is known as “some sort of guru” who can find the cheapest fares. He added that when using Virgin services at Blackpool, he had observed customers being turned away at the barriers on a daily basis because they don’t understand which train their ticket is valid for.

One of the companies HackTrain has been working with on new technology solutions has been developing an industry-first app that tells customers which trains they can use tickets on. “How sad is that?” Lynch said, expressing disappointment that an app of this sort is needed.

Lynch’s call for the industry to take action to understand customers’ experience in using information and ticketing systems echoes comments from Department for Transport managing director passenger services Peter Wilkinson last month. “Go out and travel on the system without your rail passes and pretend to be someone who buys a ticket,” Wilkinson told an industry conference. “Go and experience the system through the eyes of real people, ordinary people, and you will see what we are doing wrong very quickly.”


Further HackTrain coverage in the latest issue of Passenger Transport:


HackTrain is achieving ‘amazing’ ambitions
The fledgling HackTrain movement drew praise at its conference in London last week, with start-ups delivering significant breakthroughs

Action urged to remove barriers to innovation
Report by HackTrain co-founders may make uncomfortable reading for the rail industry but could ‘very well be the turning point for our railway’


This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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