The National Rail Communication Centre (NRCC)

Introduction

The National Rail Communication Centre (NRCC) supports UK Train Operating Companies by communicating the latest travel information, empowering you to make an informed decision about your journey.

We are a highly enthusiastic, motivated and skilled team of 25 staff, from a mixture of railway and non-railway backgrounds. The team is based in Doncaster, Yorkshire.

The NRCC operates 24x7x364 (and a bit), so you are able to receive information around the clock, throughout the year. We do this by:

  • Gathering railway related information from the Train Operating Companies, Network Rail and other sources
  • Filtering, sorting and (where possible) improving that information
  • Translating any terminology into language that you can understand, and
  • Rapidly distributing that information via the NRE information channels to our customers – YOU!

So… when you ring the advisors at National Rail Enquiries (03457 48 49 50), or you look at your NRE App, the NRE website, your text or email alert, or the latest NRE tweets…

... And you think ‘I wonder where that information comes from’?  - the chances are that the NRCC have been involved in obtaining that information for you!

What have the NRCC ever done for us???

We seek out, process, and publish train related information for you in a number of key areas:

  • Real-time service disruption information, problems that may affect your journey now or later today, with the alternative travel options available to you
  • Real-time timetable accuracy, making changes to your train due to current disruptions
  • Planned railway improvement and engineering work, details of disruption on the railway network that may impact your journey in future weeks
  • On Twitter, we send social networking messages to advise of service disruption, future engineering work and other interesting railway stuff! We are also there in real time to answer your queries.
  • Advance travel information, such as train company services on Bank Holidays, how to travel to festivals and major events, and Advance ticket availability
  • Train station and on train information, the compiling, maintaining and controlling of the impressively huge amount of station and on-train information on the NRE website, and
  • Ticket and Product information, making sure that retail information on the NRE website is kept up to date and relevant.

Below you can read some interesting background information on the work the NRCC does in each of these key areas.

Real time service disruption information

The NRCC aims to give you the best possible customer experience during disruption through the NRE information channels. We aim to give you a customer-friendly summary of each significant incident including:

  • A description of the problem affecting the railway
  • The likely impact on your journey, and
  • Advice on the alternative travel options available to you.

This information is provided through a large number of channels:

  •  The Latest Travel News section on the NRE website
  • Warning bulletins on affected journeys in the Journey Planner, with links where appropriate so you can obtain a fuller description of the problem
  • Live Departure Board information messages on each station affected by disruption
  • National Service Indicator showing how the trains are running for each Train Operator
  • Emails to the media, ensuring that travel information being given out on the radio and television is consistent with that given by NRE. Often, over 100 emails are sent out by the NRCC every single day!
  • Twitter – tweets are sent via the @nationalrailenq Twitter account.

Real-time timetable accuracy

The NRCC work to get you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible when you make a train journey enquiry on your App or via the NRE website. If trains are delayed, amended, cancelled or replaced by road transport, we make sure that you are made aware as soon as possible.

The real-time National Rail timetables in the journey planners are powered by a state-of-the-art system called Darwin. The NRCC support the train operating companies by using Darwin to make timetable changes, so your journey planning is as accurate as possible. More information about Darwin can be found here.

Planned railway improvement and engineering work

The NRCC receives information from the Train Companies and Network Rail about the planned railway improvement and engineering work approximately 12 weeks in advance of the date when the work is scheduled.

At that stage, we check that the trains are showing correctly in Journey Planning systems. Any errors or omissions will show with a suitable warning message on your journey plans, and are reported to Network Rail and the Train Companies to quickly resolve.

We also publish a customer-friendly summary of the work on the NRE Website, allowing you to make an informed choice about your travel plans. Approximately 50 engineering work summaries are written and published every week!

Information is presented in the following format:

  • A description of the problem, i.e. where the engineering work is taking place and how many lines will be closed
  • The impact on your journey; and
  • Advice on the alternative travel options available to you, and any problems you may encounter (such as taking cycles onto replacement buses)

Twitter

The NRCC actively manage the National Rail Enquiries Twitter account. Our popular social media channel shares important real-time information that may affect journeys across the rail network. We also provide help and advice by promptly answering your queries 24x7, supporting our colleagues on the traditional National Rail Enquiries phone line 03457 484950.

The @nationalrailenq Twitter account almost has one million followers and continues to grow in popularity!

On Twitter, we allocate #hashtags to service disruptions and major events on Twitter, to help populate information between NRE, the Train Companies, British Transport Police and Network Rail. This allows you to focus on the complete travel picture.

Advance travel information

Information is posted by the NRCC on the Holidays & events page on the NRE website.

Every Bank Holiday weekend brings changes to train timetables, some of which can be quite dramatic! We are in touch with the planners at every Train Operating Company, and will give you as much notice as we can of any changes  - such as a Saturday level of service on Bank Holiday Monday, or major engineering work.

The NRCC also research the best ways to travel by rail to future significant events, like the Glastonbury Festival and the Open Golf Tournament, so you can get as much useful information as possible.

Buyers of the cheaper Advance tickets love the NRE website page Buying Advance tickets and reserving seats, which is maintained daily by the NRCC, and has all the farthest travel dates in the future where it is possible for you to reserve seats and buy Advance tickets.

Train station and on train information

The NRE website has station information pages, listing facilities at all stations on the National Rail network. The Train Companies are responsible for updating the information about the stations that they manage, but the NRCC ensures that the information is accurate and consistent.

The NRCC investigate, and publish on the station information pages and Live Departure Boards, important station information which may affect your journey, such as where lifts are out of action or where ticket offices are unexpectedly closed.

The NRCC also originate and maintain on-train information, such as the WiFi available on trains, and on-train facilities for disabled passengers.

Ticket and Product information

There is a dedicated area of the NRE website for Special Offers and Ranger & Rover tickets. These can sometimes work out cheaper than buying several tickets to make your journeys over a number of days! The NRCC make sure that the information on these pages is kept up to date and consistent.

And finally…

At times of significant disruption, the NRCC record messages for the National Rail Enquiries phone service, 03457 48 49 50. You can obtain recorded news on how services are running by selecting your Train Company from a list of alternatives.

Our recorded messages often get tens of thousands of ‘listens’, and are a very popular and quick alternative to waiting for the extremely busy NRE advisors to answer your phone call. So if you ever wondered why your train company’s message is often recorded with a Yorkshire accent, now you know.