The British rail system is without a doubt one of our crowning achievements. Despite its historic status however, it has run into it’s fair share of criticism.
In all fairness, It’s not difficult to see why there have been problems.
Rising levels of footfall (pre-pandemic of course), complex timetable reshuffles as well as the momentous task of managing a growing transport network of independent operators naturally resulted in some complications.
In 2018 this caused the government to announce they would be conducting a complete review of the rail system in the UK. The purpose of which was to address grievances and find ways to deliver better services across the board.
 
The review was unfortunately put on ice in 2020 due to Covid. However, A whitepaper containing the findings called ‘The Williams-Schnapps plan for rail’ was eventually released on the 20th of May. Inside were radical plans to overhaul the current structure of our nations railway network.

The Proposal

In a nutshell the idea is for a brand new organisation to take control of everything train-related in the UK.

The body, grandly named Great British Railways is set to take over from 2023 when it will replace National Rail.

This means it will be overseeing a huge number of different functions. These range from setting timetables to overseeing the process for procuring and managing rail operators. Certainly no easy task. 

It’s important to note that while this new setup seems like it could be some form of quasi-nationalisation, it certainly isn’t.

Great British Rail will be a privately owned organisation overseeing a pre-existing, although potentially re-shuffled group of network franchises.

The idea is to bring everything under one roof for the first time since the rail system was privatised in the mid 1990’s. The hope is that this will create efficiency, transparency and accountability across the whole network.

 

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How Does Lost Property Come Into This?

Somewhat unsurprisingly we see this reimagining of our beloved rail network as an opportunity to get an effective lost & found process in place.

Currently there are 22 different different train operators in the UK which can make lost and found enquiries challenging. We’ve already explored the complications in managing lost property across a large network, but the UK’s rail system presents a different set of problems.

A passenger can very easily travel using multiple different train lines in one day. This means if someone misplaces something along the way, it’s not always easy to know which operator is responsible.

The fact that each franchise has it’s own process can also make things difficult. Causing unnecessary confusion and frustration for passengers.

 

The Solution

Back in 2015 (if anyone can even remember that far back). Transport Focus, an independent watchdog, called for a unified lost property system across the UK’s rail network.

“The current systems in place are, in many cases, not fit for purpose for reuniting lost property with rightful owners.


“A centralised national database, as well as sensible rules for dealing with lost property across the country’s rail network, would make a huge difference to passengers.”

Jocelyn Pearson, the Transport Focus Issues Manager

 
The introduction of Great British Rail offers a situation where this dream can become a reality.
 
Having an overarching body creates the perfect opportunity to scrap processes that weren’t working before. Doing so means you can replace them with cohesive, digital led solutions that work.
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What’s The Best Solution?

Using NotLost’s tailormade lost property software, enquiries for missing items don’t need to be a burden. Handling them can be quick and easily, all the while providing a positive experience for passengers.
 
When a member of the rail team finds a misplaced item on a train or at a station all they need to do is take a picture and upload it to our system.
They can also include any relevant information (e.g where was it found, on what line) which will make it easier to identify.
 
Now our image recognition software will take that photo, create a profile of the item and store it on our secure database.
 
Passengers who enquire are directed to a self service portal where they enter the details of their missing possession.
 
Our matching tool automatically compares it with any lost property that has been handed in. Once the match is complete the customer selects from a range of return options.

A Better Experience For Everyone

 
Now we have a process which saves huge amounts of time for both customers and staff.
Train passengers have a single and clear point of enquiry where they can be easily directed to.
There’s no need for them to know exactly where they lost the item or for them to chase around trying to find the relevant party.
 
This means we have a much higher proportion of customers getting items back. Firstly this turns what could be a negative experience for passengers into a positive one.
 
Secondly there are far less misplaced items getting chucked out. Making a positive impact on your environmental footprint.
On top of saving on trips to the dump your team doesn’t now need to engage in laborious lost & found enquires.
 
Traditional processes all to often involve staff taking details and embarking on an exhausting and all too often fruitless search.

Automating these via a digital solution frees up time that can be far better spent.

Find out more

Get in touch with us on +44(0)20 8037 3970 or drop us an email hello@notlost.com. 

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