From this week, passengers on selected Thameslink and Great Northern Railway lines can use the Rail+ Club app to track their journeys and earn rewards. The app uses new, privacy-conscious QR scanning technology, so passengers can record their trips simply and safely by scanning codes on station platforms. In exchange, they'll receive rewards such as hot drinks, gourmet pizzas and luxury shopping vouchers.
The Rail+ Club app has been developed by UrbanThings, with funding won from the Department for Transport's First of a Kind 2021 competition, delivered by InnovateUK. BetterPoints' behaviour change technology has been built into the platform to power the rewards.
The number of commuter journeys is still not back to pre-pandemic levels, and rail journeys are less than half of what they were in Autumn 2019. Road traffic, however, has been back to pre-pandemic levels for nearly six months. As more people return to commuting, Rail+ Club aims to encourage people back to the railways and away from over-reliance on cars.
As well as encouraging rail travel, the platform helps reduce the cost of passenger acquisition by providing train operators with highly accurate data on passenger journeys and behaviour.
"It's essential we get passengers out of cars and back onto rail. It's one of the most sustainable ways to travel," said Carl Partridge, CEO of UrbanThings.
"This technology has the potential not only to do this, but also to collect highly accurate passenger movements data that enables train operators to acquire customers far more affordably."
"We are facing a climate catastrophe if we don't do everything we can to stop it right now," said Richard Kirk, CEO of BetterPoints Ltd.
"We have to change the way we move: we have to get people away from single-occupancy car journeys and into using more sustainable modes of transport, like trains."
David Gornall, Commercial Director of Govia Thameslink Railway, said:
"GTR is committed to supporting innovative projects, like the Rail+ Club programme, that incentivise rail travel. We are delighted to be working with UrbanThings and BetterPoints to pilot the Rail+ Club on the GTR network to encourage customers away from car journeys to rail travel."
The technology can be adapted for any ticketing or technology supplier, and it is hoped the project will expand to include additional train operating companies after a successful three-month trial.If you're interested in trying out the Rail+Club app for yourself, you can sign-up here.