Network Rail to trial Parcel Shop Service at mainline stations

Network Rail have announced they are about to test the concept of a parcel collection and delivery service at its mainline stations in a new initiative called Doddle. They say that it will be the only one of its kind that is available to every retailer, etailer, parcel carrier and shipper, creating a network of single points for the collection, return and sending of parcels.

Network Rail have decided to initially test the concept at Milton Keynes Central station with its 3,000 employees who are based near by and which is close to a number of key delivery operations. This will be followed closely by trials at London Paddington and Woking stations with other stations to follow throughout 2014 once the concept is proven, creating up to 4,000 new jobs.

The thing I really like about this concept is that it’s retailer and carrier agnostic. If you as a retailer wish to offer it as a service you’ll be able to sign up and offer it as an option at checkout. However you’ll still have the freedom to use whichever courier or mail service you choose.

If you’re a consumer you’ll also be able to sign up, in which case you’ll be given an address and account reference which you can choose to use when buying from any retailer in the country (or even potentially overseas retailers as well).

These dedicated parcel shops will be open seven days a week, early until late, enabling consumers to choose exactly how, when and where they send and receive parcels. There will be an easy-to-use transactional website and advanced touch point notifications through a Mobile App, SMS and email.

Peter Louden, Project Director, told us: “Our initial conversations with both leading retailers and carriers have been extremely positive with many indicating a desire to become an early adopter. They are excited by the fantastic locations and the guaranteed footfall which is expected to increase by 30 per cent by 2020.There are around 1.5 billion passenger journeys taking place every year plus a large proportion of the UK population lives within five miles of a railway station making it a highly convenient solution for many consumers”.

The Doddle trial is being run by the Network Rail group of companies, by converting redundant space within railway stations to dedicated parcel shops, Network Rail is looking to maximise the use of its assets and infrastructure by becoming more commercial and creating value.

This isn’t obviously going to be ideal for all consumers but it’s ideal for commuters. If you’re taking a daily train journey every day of the week, Doddle will allow you to simply pick up your online purchases as part of your daily commute, either from the mainline commuter station in the city, or from your local station when you arrive home.

If you’re interested in keeping up to date with developments from Doddle, you can sign up on their website holding page.