UK-based train operating company Virgin Trains has implemented a Rich Communications Services (RCS)-based chat service for passenger communications.

The service, called Text Messaging 2.0, will enable Virgin Trains to send photos, videos, audio and messages containing easy-to-select buttons to its passengers and customers.

It has been rolled out in partnership with telecom company Vodafone and mobile messaging solutions provider OpenMarket.

Virgin Trains chief information officer John Sullivan said: “We’re proud to be the very first company in the world to use RCS-based Chat actively with our customers to enrich their communications experience with Virgin Trains.

“We’re proud to be the very first company in the world to use RCS-based Chat actively with our customers to enrich their communications experience with Virgin Trains.”

“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 customer.”

The Text Messaging 2.0 service will initially offer journey information to its London Euston-bound passengers.

All passengers will receive the latest updates of their journey nearly 10 minutes before they reach the station.

They can also tap the message containing the updates on London Underground services to receive more detailed information from Transport for London (TfL).

OpenMarket CEO Jonathan Morgan said: “There are three specific reasons why consumers will find the Chat service a significant improvement on regular text messages. First, it 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 Chat 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 Chat messages.”

The service will be available for all Virgin Trains customers using an RCS-compatible smartphone on the Vodafone network. Other customers will receive a text message that will redirect to TfL’s website.