How to get free coffee when you travel by train

How to get free coffee when you travel by train: National Rail sets up pilot scheme to offer complimentary drinks and snacks to customers who sign up to ‘Alert Me’ service updates on WhatsApp

  • Rail passengers who sign up to a new service to get personalised updates on their journey from National Rail via WhatsApp will be offered free food and drink 
  • Initiative is part of a retail pilot that rewards customers for travelling by train
  • Passengers will receive vouchers via QR code for redeemable rewards at a variety of retailers inside train stations and on trains 

Rail passengers who sign up to a new service to get personalised updates on their journey from National Rail via WhatsApp  will be offered free drink and snacks on their trip.

Anyone using the travel provider’s ‘Alert Me’ service between now and October can opt-in to receive rewards such as a free cup of coffee from train station retailers during their journey.

The initiative is part of a retail pilot that rewards customers for travelling by train, as well as taking an alternative service if their chosen train is predicted to be busy or if they experience a delay. 

Until October, those travelling through Wigan, Preston, London, Glasgow, Swindon, Manchester, and Havant, could bag themselves a free drink or snack if they plan their journey using National Rail’s Alert Me by Messenger or WhatsApp service.    

Rail passengers who sign up to a new service to get personalised updates on their journey from National Rail via WhatsApp will be offered free drink and snacks on their trip. Stock image

The service, which can be accessed via National Rail Enquiries website, is free to use and updates passengers about their journeys. Including information on busy services and alternative routes. 

Passengers will receive vouchers via QR code for redeemable rewards at a variety of retailers, including Whistlestop, Camden Food Co and Upper Crust, within select UK train stations nationwide. 

The unique technology powering the pilot scheme has been developed by British company Zipabout and matches the reward offers to retailers at specific stations without using any location tracking or third-party data sharing.

For instance, users who choose to travel on a quieter service from Brighton to London Victoria station will be sent a ‘thank you’ message and could be offered a free breakfast roll at Upper Crust. 

What is National Rail’s ‘Alert Me’ service?

Alert Me is a unique, personalised, disruption messaging tool brought to you via either Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

National Rail provides customers with real-time, personalised information in times of disruption or if social distancing on their chosen services is predicted to be difficult.

This is part of the rail industry’s commitment to put customers in control of their journeys and help provide a better experience so they can travel with confidence.

Customers can sign up to Alert Me by either Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp via the ‘Keep Me Updated’ buttons on the National Rail website. 

These buttons will appear when searching for a journey on the live departure boards or when looking in the details of a service within the journey planner.

Customers who sign up will be sent tailored information about their journey including details of alternative trains should their next or planned service be cancelled or delayed, or when social distancing is predicted to be difficult. Alternative services by the same Operator will be provided (when available) and alternative journeys on other Operators may also be shown when possible. Please check that your ticket is valid before boarding alternative services. 

As they arrive at Victoria station, they will receive a unique QR code and directions to the store where they will have up to one hour to redeem it.

The pilot is running until October across 10 stations throughout the UK, including: Wigan Northwestern, Swindon, Preston, Manchester Piccadilly, Havant, Glasgow Central, London Victoria, London Waterloo, London Paddington, and London Euston. The participating retailers, all owned by SSP, include Whistlestop, Camden, Pasty Shop, Pumpkin and Upper Crust.

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the company that manages National Rail on behalf of the rail industry, told FEMAIL: ‘We’re delighted to be working with Zipabout and various retailers to identify ways to improve passenger experience when our customers travel by train. 

‘The National Rail Alert Me by Messenger and WhatsApp services provide customers with the latest personalised travel information including busyness alerts to help customers travel with confidence.’

Mark Smith, Chief Digital and Technology Officer at SSP, added: ‘We’re excited to be partnering with Zipabout and EagleEye to offer a number of promotions on a range of delicious food and drink from participating units at major rail stations across the UK. 

‘This innovative, digitally enabled voucher service is a great way to bring customers into our brands, and we hope it will encourage more people to get back onto the rail network.’

Alex Froom, Chief Executive of Zipabout, added: ‘It’s great to see Zipabout’s new Loyalty and Rewards feature being used by transport operators to improve customer experience and loyalty, and drive growth. 

‘By connecting them with brands and retailers, we’re empowering them to reward and incentivise sustainable travel and help kickstart a green-led economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.’

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