Commuters to use social networks for travel updates

Road works

Commuters will soon be able to share updates on traffic jams and delays on the railways, as a result of a 1.6m research project.

Our Travel uses social networking technologies to create a "community-based" travel information service.

Road users and rail passengers can share real time updates about road works, engineering works or other delays.

Researchers behind the project, developed at Lancaster University, hope transport staff and even road workers will also post updates, to ensure the service is as up-to-date as possible.

Travellers are being encouraged to post travel updates via an iPhone application associated with their Facebook accounts. The Our Travel app will post updates in close to real time, so travelers will be able to avoid blackspots or traffic jams, or re-plan their rail journeys.

Travellers will be able to monitor news updates from other people who are using the same route.

"At the moment, local news updates or radio travel news only give you a general overview [of problems] and will not be specific about your route," said Professor Nigel Davies from InfoLab21, part of Lancaster's School of Computing and Communications. "Even motorway signs warning of delays can be out-of-date by the time you drive past."

Our Travel will also provide feedback to travel companies, such as rail operators and highways maintenance firms - construction company Carillion is one of the project's backers. Initial trials took place in the village of Wray, Lancashire.

The research project was part funded by the Technology Strategy Board.