Website platform for rail moans

Train journeys between Norwich and London have provided the inspiration for a new website that lets people vent their frustrations while they are still on the move.

Train journeys between Norwich and London have provided the inspiration for a new website that lets people vent their frustrations while they are still on the move.

Soup, a digital marketing agency based in Norwich, has set up the Train Blog, a forum for complaints and praise about train services. Users can log on to the website and add comments, but the big idea is that travellers can text their comments from their mobile phones and have them added to the site.

Staff at Soup regularly travel between Norwich and their sister office in London, and so the idea was born.

The blog has already proved more popular than expected, with most of the comments so far about One railway services. Soup says it hopes that One will use it to monitor customer feedback.

The site is also a research project designed to demonstrate that mobile phones are an important marketing tool.

The site, whose headline is "Going insane on the train?" describes it as "a place to vent frustration, share opinion or even sing the praises of your network". Comments range from "What's the point of the quiet carriage?" to complaints about delayed trains and fellow passengers with large newspapers, as well as some praise for trouble-free journeys.

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Soup managing director Nick Thompson said: "Our research shows most people do not bother providing feedback because it is perceived as a hassle, or they feel the effort wouldn't be rewarded. We thought this was a way for people to provide feedback while they are on the move and have the time to do it. It is an ideal opportunity to demonstrate how technology can be used to allow the customer to influence a large corporation's approach to customer service."

Soup spokesman Ellie Kaye added: "Blogs and comment sites are popping up all over the place and are not always very effective, but we wanted to show that you can do it in a way that is effective and together people can have a voice that will be heard."

One railway spokesman Peter Meades said they were aware of the site, but that there were already a range of ways for passengers to provide feedback.

He said: "Comments already come into our customer service centre in Norwich, and we want our customers to contact us through the passenger forum and through 'meet the manager' sessions. We do live in an electronic age and where there are other methods of contacting us we will listen to what comments have been made."

Soup has recently set up a mobile arm to concentrate on this type of marketing, and has already had clients asking for adapted versions of the Train Blog.

Website - www.trainblog.co.uk.