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Rail passengers can now get live updates via WhatsApp - and some who sign up can get a free coffee too

From today, rail passengers in England, Scotland and Wales can get personalised updates on their journey from National Rail via WhatsApp. Updates include real-time details of delays, disruption and alternative travel routes. Passengers travelling to or from certain stations may also be able to get a free coffee, newspaper or snack this month when they sign-up to the alerts. 

You can access the new service by planning your train journey using the National Rail Enquiries website and clicking on the ‘Keep me updated by WhatsApp’ link. The WhatsApp service is free to use and you don't need to book tickets via National Rail to qualify. You also don't need to give National Rail your phone number - it will sync with your WhatsApp when you sign-up.

Updates will include information on which services are busy and alternative travel routes for those who wish to take a quieter service. It follows the launch of National Rail's live updates via Facebook Messenger in 2018. This service will continue to be available alongside the new WhatsApp version, and National Rail's existing SMS version will also continue.

See our Cheap Train Tickets guide for more info on how to find hidden fares and split tickets. If your train is late or cancelled, you can also see our Train Delays guide for how to claim a refund.  

How to get a free coffee, newspaper or snack when you sign-up for alerts

Anyone who signs up to the 'Alert Me' WhatsApp service between now and the end of this month (30 September) can also opt-in to receive rewards, such as a free cup of coffee, from select retailers at participating train stations. This is part of a pilot that will last until the end of the month that's aimed to incentivise people back to using trains. 

But there's no guarantee that just because you're travelling to and from participating stations (see the full list below) that you'll be sent an e-voucher for a freebie - National Rail says these rewards will be sent at random. 

If you do get lucky, you'll receive an e-voucher via a QR code that will give you up to one hour to redeem a free drink, snack or newspaper at one of the participating retailers, including Camden Food Co, Upper Crust, Whistlestop, and WHSmith. All you need to do is show the QR code at checkout. 

You can receive a maximum of one freebie every six hours but which freebie you'll get - whether it's a drink, snack or newspaper - will vary depending on the retailer and the station. You'll receive a WhatsApp message detailing what the freebie is and where you can get it from.

The scheme is taking place across the following 14 train stations:

  • Birmingham New Street
  • Glasgow Central
  • Havant
  • London Bridge 
  • London Euston
  • London Liverpool Street
  • London Paddington
  • London Victoria
  • London Waterloo
  • Manchester Piccadilly
  • Preston
  • Reading
  • Swindon
  • Wigan Northwestern

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