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Expect the unexpected as you travel this Christmas

Forecasting service demand is challenging but our data means we can accurately predict the busiest periods and help safe travel this festive period.
December 3, 2020

Throughout October, seven regions in the UK were put into tier three lockdown and people were advised against travelling in or out of their area.

We used our patent pending technology platform, which we use to forecast demand on the transport network, to look at the number of passengers planning journeys in each of these regions during the first week of tier three restrictions and compared this against the previous week.

Of the seven regions that were placed into tier three restrictions in October, three saw an uplift in the number of passengers intending to travel compared to the previous week. This includes Greater Manchester (+5%), South Yorkshire (+7%) and Warrington (+2%).

Tier three restrictions came into force in Merseyside on 14th October. Over the course of the next week there was a 52% drop in the number of passengers planning rail journeys. All six areas in Merseyside (Liverpool, StHelens, Knowsley, Wirral, Sefton, and Halton) saw a drop in the number of passengers intending to travel.

We’re sharing this data because it shows how quickly travel behaviour can change and not always in the way you might first expect; not even when the guidance is updated to say 'do not travel in or out of your area unless you have to’

The large fall in passenger numbers on UK trains caused by the pandemic, and the shift in travel behaviours, has made forecasting demand much more difficult for operators. The transport industry has traditionally predicted how busy services will be by analysing how many people travelled on them previously.This cannot be used to forecast future demand or warn passengers in advance how busy their service might be.

Zipabout’s personalised information service however is powered by patent-pending technology which can identify how busy they transport network will be in future. This capability is more important now than ever, as passengers are being told to avoid peak travel times / busy services. The UK Government recognised this challenge and commissioned Zipabout to make our personalised information service available to all users of National Rail Enquiries via Messenger, and have committed to making the same service available to all train operators shortly.

That means over the Christmas period, when demand on the UK railnetwork is set to surge, passengers can access crowding alerts that are based on forecast demand data, plan their journey properly, and travel with confidence.

All you have to do is plan your journey on National Rail Enquiries and select ‘Alert Me by Messenger’, or search for National Rail Enquiries on Messenger and select ‘Get started'.

The UK Government are introducing Christmas travel measures to help passengers plan their journey and travel safely; they say that if you plan on travelling by train, you should book ahead and avoid the busiest times.

Now you know how.