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Network Rail to trial Parcel Shop Service at mainline stations

By Chris Dawson December 3, 2013 - 6:40 am

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.

  • Neil
    4 years ago

    Having been defrauded to the tune of £1500 a couple of years ago for multiple sales going to “mail boxes” type stores, this strikes me as yet another type of delivery address that any retailer should be very wary of sending goods to as a buyer who later reverses his payment will be virtually impossible to track down.

  • JD
    4 years ago

    TOCs (Train Operating Companies) seem hell bent on closing ticket offices so there will be plenty of space for Network Rail to use.

    Train tickets in the post, parcels at the railway station.

    Irony?

  • OlPeculier
    4 years ago

    Now if we could deliver a parcel to the train station and it be delivered by train the same day that would be an excellent service.

    (I used to it for sending rolls of film to newspapers)

  • 4 years ago

    Sounds like a good idea. Although the woman in the picture has absolutely no interest in helping that man with his parcel.

  • Matt
    4 years ago

    Good heavens, it sounds like the excellent Red Star service that was killed off by a bunch of Thatcherite accountants in the 1980s. It was the only way to get a parcel from one end of the country to the other on the same day, a service that doesn’t exist at present.

    • 4 years ago

      Royal Mail reckon they can do your same day service across the whole country…

    • Matt
      4 years ago

      Oh yes. I could get them to take a parcel from London to Newcastle for only £300 unlike the £10 or so that Red Star used to be . . .

  • 4 years ago

    At first glance it seems a very interesting idea. As said above the Train Operating Companies are planning to close Ticket Offices so there will be a lot of extra spare space in Stations. Certainly the larger Stations especially the London Termini seem ideal. But across the country there are many small stations. Many unmanned which are probably not suitable. Even small manned Stations are probably not suitable although in the good old days of Red Star Railway Parcel Services many small stations had a Red Star Office even if it did not have a dedicated Member of Staff. What used to happen was if you wanted to collect a Red Star parcel you presented yourself to the Members of Staff who were on duty and one of them would go and unlock the Red Star Office and hand over your parcel. So it is really only an old idea(Red Star) brought up to date.

  • Steve
    4 years ago

    Well lets hope they sort out the parking; Our local station is a nightmare if you want to stop just for a minute or two

  • OlPeculier
    4 years ago

    Does anybody know if they will start to offer their own Red Star style service if this gets rolled out nationwide, or even reopen the business model and sell the rights to an existing courier company?

    Also, will they be manned, so would collecting a parcel require a signature, because that would remove the possibility of a charge back from a dodgy customer.

    Actually, if retailers were to get a charge back if you could log onto the site and report it that would be useful if you could also see if a customer had tried doing this kind of scam before.

    • JD
      4 years ago

      ‘Does anybody know if they will start to offer their own Red Star style service if this gets rolled out nationwide, or even reopen the business model and sell the rights to an existing courier company?’

      Modern rolling stock, train dwell times, on/off train manpower, general infrastructure, health and safety, etc etc would preclude any rail based ‘Red Star’ type service now.

      Point to point movement of bulk mail would be possible – but Royal Mail don’t do that anymore!

  • Gary
    4 years ago

    Online is door to door. This service will affect ebay feedback. ebay buyers are not going to go out of their way to pick up shipments. They will expect parcel to be taxied to their door. Use this type of service at your peril.

    Amazon drones are the future.

    • 4 years ago

      The old Red Star was way faster than just about anything on offer today. The parcel was put onto, usually, an express train in the Guards Compartment. There was a locked area that only the Guard had access to. So if you knew the Train Timetable. You could take your parcel along to the Red Star Office on say Paddington in time to get it on the train to say Penzance. It would be put in the Guards Compartment. Then when the train arrived in Penzance, again if you knew the train timetable. You could be waiting to receive it. So it was a genuine “Same Day” Service.

      Because once it was on the train it was in a locked compartment and it was taken off the train at the relavant Station in theory it only took a few hours from say Paddington to Penzance or perhaps Kings Cross to Aberdeen or whatever.

      But it was not a Door to Door Service. You had to go along to the Station to the Red Star Office to collect it. But if it was that urgent that you were willing to pay the premium price then you were at the Station either waiting the trains arrival or soon afterwards.

    • Cambridge_Blue
      4 years ago

      Absolutely fascinating!
      Thank you so much for sharing this with me.
      So how is this going to help me either make more money selling online or perhaps make me a better person?
      God Bless ‘story tellers’.
      pip pip

    • 4 years ago

      I saw somewhere that the price of one of these drones was £9,000 at present. No doubt as production really gets going this will come down. At these sorts of prices then it can be expected that just about every form of delivery service that has packages of a suitable size and weight will be wanting them.

      Thus it can be expected that unless regulated there will be thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of then flying around the skies. The chances of collisions will be enormous. Then there are the natural obstructions such as Trees, Electricity Cables etc and don’t forget the Wind Turbines(Windmills). It is calculated that every year these things kill large numbers of birds. So if they can kill birds they certainly destroy drones.

      Obviously initially they will be concentrated in the Urban Areas. But as time goes on and more and more delivery services are using them you can almost guarantee that they will be seen over more of the country. So no part of the Country could be safe from them.

      A collision will mean 2 of these things plunging to earth. So just about anywhere you could find one dropping on your head. They could also crash into buildings. We have had a problem with our local Bus Shelter. Often in the past we have found dead birds near the Bus Shelter. The belief was that the birds were flying into the clear glass sides. So a Villager stuck stickers onto the glass to make them visible to the birds. It seems to have worked. But will something so simple work with drones if you find that they keep hitting your house, almost certainly not.

      So like many developments perhaps we should allow a limited number of such drones for experimental purposes but refuse a general licence(as they fly I take it that if there is not a current suitable licence that one will be introduced before their widespread operation is allowed) for their widespread use until we have ascertained just what the possible problems and dangers are with their operation.

    • Cambridge_Blue
      4 years ago

      What has this got to do with the proposed ‘Doddle’ service based at Railway stations per chance?
      As to the rest of your post please stop ‘droning’ on concerning a matter about which you are completely clueless.
      God Bless ‘the Bezos PR machine’.
      pip pip

  • 4 years ago

    Apart from the Red Star Parcel Services there were the normal Rail Parcel Services. I can remember those wonderful Scammell Mechanical Horses hauling the trailers full of parcels around towns and cities and indeed out into the country. Who today would believe that we used to have 3 wheel Articulated Lorry Tractors hauling trucks full of goods and parcels around our towns and cities.

    The last place I saw Mechanical Horses in active service was in the 1970’s down on the fish docks in Grimsby. There are still many on Preserved Railways etc. But I would guess that there are none left in active service. The ones on the Fish Docks survived so long because the roads on the Fish Docks in Grimsby were all private roads. I can remember seeing them running around with no headlights or headlights swinging on the ends of wires. It did not matter on private roads. But every day they were hauling trucks full of fish around the docks.

    At the time I was working for a company that had a depot down on the fish docks. If I was working in Grimsby during the week I had to call up the Accountants in the Group on about Thursday and take their fish orders. A stone of Cod here and a half a stone of Haddock there etc. Then I would phone the combined order through to our depot on the Docks and Friday afternoon I would go down on the Docks and pick up my order in fish boxes packed in ice. Then I would run it down to the south of the group dropping it off at the various Accountants homes on the way through. One Friday it was a scorcher. As I was running home the ice was melting. The air in the back of the car(A Brand New Borrowed Allegro Estate) was turning green. When I got home I took the carpets out of the car and put them over the washing line and played the hose pipe on them(for hours) they still stunk of fish. On the Monday I took the car back and told them what a great car it had been but the carpets all needed changing. They did I just could not get the stink of fish out of them. They could hardly say anything just about every Accountant(including the Chief Accountant and Financial Director) had had fish on the car.

    • Cambridge_Blue
      4 years ago

      Thank you so very much for sharing this ‘fishy’ reminiscence with us all.
      It make me so very glad that I am living in this century and not in the past like some people.
      God Bless ‘Nissan & foreign investment in the car industry’.
      pip pip

    • Peter King
      4 years ago

      When I was much younger than I am now, I used to walk to school, occasionally I would catch a bus, It was a diesel bus made possibly by Denis, although I could easily be wrong, I’ve recently sold a number of bus identifying books on ebay under my personal account as I do not sell over 100 books a month to qualify for a business account. Hopefully soon I will be able to sell enough transport related books to open a business account before I retire.

      While at school I often used to gaze out the window at the local train line, occasionally trains would go past, possibly carrying fish, accountants and red star parcels to the local station, these is a picture of this station in one of my many remaindered trainspotting books (available on my ebay account). It’s a green book, with many illustrated pages, mostly about trains, but as I said with several pictures of stations.

      But to get back to my story, while at school, i often dreamt about being one of those interesting accountant types on their way to the fish market with their red star parcels.

      This has all helped me to become a better eBay seller, as I’m sure you agree experience of trains, fish, abacuses and slide rules is what you need to sell books. I have many books which I have indexed by the locomotive and carriage numbers which appear in the illustrations (some colour, some back and white, others unfortunately badly obscured by damp)

      I think the train I saw was blue, but it might have been green. I will update this post with its number once i have looked it up in my ledger.

      Please excuse my brevity in this post, I’m just on my way out to the local parish council meeting, upon my return I will update you on our decision about the type of bulb to plan on the green next spring.

    • 4 years ago

      I could not get the impression of selling books so dis-coloured by damp out of my mind. I keep most of my stock(there is a little elsewhere) in a warm and dry Store-room. So I have no fear at all about any of my stock being discoloured by damp. Indeed for month after month my feedback runs at a steady 100%. I would imagine that anybody who was to try to make a living on ebay, or indeed anywhere else, by selling books that were so dis-coloured by damp would run at a considerably lower feedback. Indeed I would expect that they spent most of their time answering customer complaints and trying to defend their totally shoddy and amateur activities.

      Years ago I did know somebody else with the surname “King” who tried to sell books. I cannot remember his Christian name and as he was a lot older than me and it was many years ago(at least 20) I would guess that it is not the same bloke. But this other “King” was also a total disaster as a Book Distributor. It was not very long that all of his customers would not believe a word that he told them. So I find myself wondering if it is a family trait. I would doubt if Peter King has ever sold a book in his life and if he has he was also a disaster at it.

    • Cambridge_Blue
      4 years ago

      I knew a ex-accountant turned bookseller who sold a few books a year based somewhere down in the south-west but fancied himself as an expert on everything and seemed to live in the past.
      His name was Chris Turgid and he was a complete failure at everything he did.
      Perhaps you know of him?
      pip pip

  • 4 years ago

    As he has only lived in this century that makes him 13 years old which when compared with the abysmal quality of so many of his postings seems about right. After all a while ago he was making abysmal quality postings about the fact that I am in my 60’s with health problems. Also Cambridge_Blue stated that all Cornishmen were mass murderers as he stated that we were all “Wreckers”.

    Perhaps it is time for him to stop posting until his one working brain cell is given an overhaul.

    • Cambridge_Blue
      4 years ago

      Frankly most 13 year olds could construct a better & more rational argument than you can manage with your pointless postings of times past.
      Your health problems are of no interest to me whatsoever so stop playing for the sympathy vote yet again.
      Now do you want me to send ‘nursy’ down in the Bentley to wipe the spittle (or is it dribble) from your chin?
      God Bless ‘Trinity House’.
      pip pip

  • 4 years ago

    I would suggest that you hang onto to your Mental Health Nurse – You have far more need for her services than I do.

    I have never seen any sign of a “better and more rational argument” in any of your previous postings. Normally your postings just contain snide comments.

  • Cambridge_Blue
    4 years ago

    Nothing snide at all about pointing out that you seem to live in the past and most of your posts are usually pointless & tedious in my view.
    God Bless ‘Lady Killigrew’.
    pip pip

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