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Virgin Trains has partnered with Vodafone and OpenMarket to become the first company in the UK to introduce RCS messaging as a communication channel – the next evolution of SMS text messaging. Hailed as ‘Text Messaging 2.0’,

RCS will transform the way in which companies communicate with customers and represents a significant global first for the UK’s transport industry.

RCS messages carry much more information than an SMS message, giving Virgin Trains the potential to send photos, videos and audio messages to customers. Initially the technology will be used to provide onward journey information to its London Euston-bound passengers. RCS messages are sent to customers’ smartphones around 10 minutes before they arrive into the station and provide the latest updates for London Underground services. Customers can simply tap a button within the message to find out more detailed information from TfL.

Virgin Trains sees RCS messaging as a way to transform communications with customers and will continue to explore and expand its applications within the business.

John Sullivan, Chief Information Officer at Virgin Trains, said: “We’re proud to not only be the first UK business to adopt this latest technology but also the first transport company in the world to introduce RCS. We always strive to lead the way and with a proud record of digital innovation, we’re very excited to be investing in new technology that will transform the way we communicate with our customers.”

“This is just the start and we look forward to developing our RCS messaging and further enhance the overall journey experience for customers.”

Jonathan Morgan, CEO at OpenMarket, said: “Text Messaging 2.0 has finally arrived. RCS is text messaging for the smartphone age, and it gives customers a richer, smarter, more app-like experience – all from their SMS inbox.

“There are three specific reasons that consumers will find RCS a significant improvement on regular text messages. First, RCS makes completing even complex tasks such as providing feedback as easy as tapping a button. Second, there is no need for third party apps as RCS adds functionality in the native messaging inbox that consumers already use frequently. Third, message branding and verified sender information provide consumers with increased peace of mind when they receive RCS messages.”

The introduction of RCS is the latest digital initiative to be rolled out by Virgin Trains, who earlier this year became the first transport company in the world to sell tickets through Amazon Alexa. Other innovations that set Virgin Trains out as industry leaders for technology include the launch of BEAM (on-board entertainment portal), m-Tickets across all routes as well as Automatic Delay Repay.

Currently, RCS messages can be received by any Vodafone customers using Google Android Messages. Other customers will receive an SMS text message that contains a link to Transport for London’s (TfL) website.

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