HUDDERSFIELD train conductors are being given BlackBerries in a bid to keep customers better informed.
Train operator Northern Rail – which operates services in Huddersfield – is providing handheld computers to more than 1,000 conductors to help customers get faster and more accurate information.
The company is the first train operator in the country to issue BlackBerries to all of its conductors.
The £140,000 investment means the conductors will get better quality information about services.
They will also know more about delays, onward connections at stations or planned engineering works.
Heidi Mottram, managing director for Northern Rail, said: “Our customers are increasingly satisfied with the overall service that we provide but they would like more information, particularly during disruption.
“We have listened to their feedback and providing BlackBerries to all our conductors will help to keep people informed.
“We have achieved a big increase in the number of our trains that arrive on time. But when there are delays, customers really want to know what is happening and that is where the BlackBerries will be a big help.”
The BlackBerries have replaced the company’s existing system which relies on its operations control centre sending messages to conductors using mobile phones and text messages.
The text messages have a limited number of characters which restricts the amount of information that can be sent.
Now the BlackBerries mean that the control centre can send messages by email without any restrictions to the size of messages, giving conductors all the information they need in a single message.
The devices also have internet access to live departure boards which means conductors can provide customers with up-to-date information about onward connections.
They will also allow conductors to send detailed information into the control centre.
The roll-out of BlackBerries to all conductors follows a pilot scheme run in conjunction with Vodafone.
Peter Kelly, enterprise director for Vodafone UK, said: “The new solution will allow Northern Rail conductors to interact directly with the most up-to-date information available.
“This will be a key advantage in providing a responsive and efficient service to customers.”
Northern Rail is the biggest train operator in Britain, providing 2,500 local train services every day across the north of England and serving around 15m.