Project Description

MTR Crossrail’s frontline staff app provides live travel information, journey planners and replacement bus service information to enable staff quickly assist customers in the station.

Client

MTR is regarded as one of the world’s leading railway operators. The company operates the urban metro for Hong Kong, Melbourne Metro in Australia, Stockholm Metro and intercity service between Stockholm and Gothenburg in Sweden. In 2014 the Corporation was awarded the concession to operate the Crossrail line in London. This project was delivered in partnership with rail specialist agency Jnction.

Client brief

MTR Crossrail expects to hire several hundred new front-line staff to support 200 million passengers per year who will use the new Elizabeth line trains. These passengers will be travelling on an unfamiliar, brand new and growing transport system. Customer service staff will be based throughout the stations, not just in dedicated ticket offices.

MTR Crossrail requires a mobile app that customer service staff could access from iPad minis in order to provide travel information and assistance to passengers in the stations.

User benefits

  • Simple easy to use app accessible on iPad mini carried by all customer service staff
  • Passengers can be provided with real-time travel information including delays and alternative routes
  • Passengers can be also provided with customised journey plans throughout the London and UK national rail system
  • Customer service staff have immediate access to company policy and procedures required for their work

Features

  • Dashboard pulling together current station location information about TfL Rail, tubes, other trains, rail-replacement bus services, weather and Twitter.
  • Autocomplete journey planner that checks Google, TfL, Citymapper and National Rail Enquires at the same time
  • Live train calling patterns for the next hour
  • Live disruption information including buses and live tube/National Rail data
  • Ticket prices for London and the UK
  • Current TfL and National Rail station information, as well as street maps and bus spider maps
  • Seven different tube maps

Technology

The app back-ends into the National Rail Enquires API, Transport for London systems, Google Maps, and Citymapper to provide a range of travel routes and options for the customer. It uses server-based PHP OO code to interface with TfL, Darwin, Ticketer SIRI APIs for live data feeds and uses Imagemagik API to generate fast previews. An appcelerator-based shell that wraps around the web-based code, built on an AWS MySQL database and EC2/Apache web-server technologies. The front-end leverages Google Maps JavaScript API and location services. The core system is written in object-originated PHP 5.

Success story

MTR Crossrail was extremely pleased with the app and requested a second, enhanced version that provided significantly more information.

MTR Crossrail’s vision is an industry leading railway that transforms travel in London. Crossrail’s chairman Terry Morgan has stated “our customers will be the prime drivers and it will be all about offering an excellent customer experience”.

The app is being used by MTR Crossrail staff daily and is expected to support this vision by greatly enhancing the customer experience.

Code extract

The DlrInterface class here uses the existing tflStationInfo to quickly get the current DLR status and convert it to the array that the display front-end uses.

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Sample screenshots