Soon, train passengers will be able to deliver and collect parcels at certain major commuter stations. Network Rail have announced the trial project aimed at diversifying the use of the stations beyond just a place to catch a train.
The parcel “shops” will be give customers the opportunity to carry out their delivery needs before or after work, addressing the current problem of work hours clashing with many parcel pick-up and drop-off times. Currently, there is availability at certain stations of lockers where customers can store parcels to be collected later by the delivery company. This scheme differs in that there will be employees who can advise on delivery options and sign for valuable items.
The scheme known as “Doddle” will allow every parcel carrier access meaning it could become a one stop solution for parcel delivery needs, as customers can send and receive parcels using different methods at the same time. The shops are scheduled to be open 7 days a week with long operating hours, and plan to alert customers to deliveries via text, email, or a smartphone app.
During the trial, only Network Rail employees will be able to take advantage of the system, before free memberships are handed out to members of the public who sign up. Network rail predicts the scheme, if successful, could generate up to 4000 new jobs along with additional revenue which will be made available for reinvestment.
The first store is set to be opened in the busy commuter town of Milton Keynes, before being rolled out to London Paddington and Woking stations. Should the trial be successful, the shops would be extended to nationwide locations throughout 2014.
Network Rail’s managing director of network operations, Robin Gisby, said, “More people are travelling by rail than ever before and stations have become more than just a place to wait for, or get off a train. With 2,500 stations nationwide and passengers making over 1.4 billion rail journeys every year we have the potential to create an unrivalled parcel delivery and collection service to meet the needs of rail users and those living near to stations.”