On the tracks of customer information: Data feed
When evaluating our services, the topic ‘customer information’ plays an important role. In this article series, we will introduce you to many motivated employees who are committed to ensure that you are well informed at all times, especially during periods of engineering and construction work. As it is important, that the timetable is always up to date, we talked to Michel, employee at the AV Department.
Timetables – a science in itself
Timetables are established years in advance and have to take into account a whole range of elements (e.g. availability of rolling stock, staff, train paths, etc.). Construction work is also planned several years in advance. Due to the complexity of the work carried out and the timetable compilation, a whole team works on ensuring that changes, for example in the case of construction work, are subsequently incorporated into the timetable. To ensure that everything is correct, the changes made must also be confirmed by the ACF, the authority that allocates the train paths (i.e. where and when trains are allowed to run on the Luxembourgish rail network).
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“Without me, the customer does not know what time the train leaves”
After the ACF has confirmed the timetable changes, Michel comes into play. With his work, he creates the basis for a timetable that customers can easily understand. Michel extracts the relevant information for the customer from the technical terms and series of numbers that are incomprehensible to them, and feeds it into the system that is hidden behind the timetable search on the website www.cfl.lu and the CFL mobile app.
If available, he also adds additional details: the price, whether the train has power sockets for electronic devices, whether there is a reservation requirement and whether access is possible with wheelchairs, bicycles or prams and for persons with reduced mobility. However, this information is currently only available for international trains.
Correcting mistakes thanks to innovative technology
“The timetable is the flagship of the company,” Michel says, underlining the importance of his job. If there are errors in the timetable, the customer might miss his train. To avoid this, the timetable is compared with the Aramis system. If differences are identified, for example because of a number mix-up, Michel gets an error message. Thanks to innovative technology, the error can then be corrected, at national level even within a very short time span. “This was not always the case,” recalls Michel, who started in this position in 1998. At that time, all timetable documents were only available in paper form, which made quick adjustments impossible. Thanks to the new technology (electronic timetable search, but also Auris), customers remain informed about changes at all times.
Expanding customer information
The CFL is currently considering how to make rail travel even easier for its customers. Customer information in electronic form could play an important role here. Information (in the timetable search or the CFL mobile app) about how the train will be composed could help customers know the location of, for example, the 1st class or wheelchair accessible boarding before the train arrives. This would not only provide more comfort for the customer, but also faster boarding and thus faster departures and more punctuality.