Travellers on Britain’s rail network will now be able to receive alerts from Whatsapp when their train is delayed or cancelled.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), an industry body that represents all of the companies that run the rail network, said passengers can get tailored information about journey disruption through the app.

Additionally, alternative routes and how busy carriages are expected to be will also be included.

Previously, the alerts were only available through Facebook Messenger.

This service has been added to WhatsApp as part of efforts to support passengers returning to work and education after the summer holidays.

If planning a journey on the National Rail Enquiries website, passengers can sign up to the service by clicking the ‘Keep me updated by Whatsapp’ option.

Nearly three million personalised journey updates have been sent during the coronavirus pandemic.

RDG chief executive Jacqueline Starr, speaking to the PA News Agency, said: “As people working from home begin commuting to their place of work again, we want to ensure they’re able to travel with confidence, which is why we are providing passengers access to personalised journey information via the channels they use the most.

“Customers who use the National Rail Alert Me service and travel frequently, or decide to take a less busy train if their chosen service is predicted to be busy, could get themselves a free drink or snack as part of a retail pilot that we’re exploring as one of the ways to incentivise people back to rail.”

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris, also speaking to the PA News Agency, said: “This is a brilliant new way of making rail journeys even easier.

“By sending helpful updates through the apps people already use, passengers can get the information they need quickly, simply and wherever they are on the rail network.”

Technology firm Zipabout is providing the data on passenger demand for the system.

Speaking to the PA News Agency, the company’s chief executive Alex Froom said: “WhatsApp is the most popular app in the UK and presents a great opportunity for the rail industry to engage with a huge audience.

“Alert Me by WhatsApp is not a chatbot and is the first instance of anyone using the app to share personalised updates in real-time on their preferred, pre-existing communication channels.”