The rail operator announced today that it will soon open the prototype branch of Doddle, its new delivery shop, in Milton Keynes Central. Visitors to the station, including around 3,000 of Network Rail’s office staff, can have their online orders delivered to the outlet.
If the concept works, Doddle branches will be open in London Paddington and Woking stations next year before being rolled out across the country.
Network Rail has teamed up with Travelex founder Lloyd Dorfman to run the trial. It has spent more than a year researching the idea and spoken to dozens of retailers and delivery firms.
“They get it. It’s very instinctive; most have experience of travelling through train stations, and have seen the large network of stations we have,” project director Peter Louden told City A.M. yesterday. “Only the Church of England has a larger network than us.”
However, there are still kinks to work out before there is a Doddle in every one of Network Rail’s 2,500 stations.
The organisation, which is facing a 20 per cent cut to its day-to-day funding from the government over the next five years, is yet to pin down exactly how the branches will make money, beyond a plan to generate revenues “from multiple sources”.
And Amazon, the online retailer, is reportedly looking at setting up a rival service, which would be hosted in the London Underground ticket offices left empty by a looming restructuring.
High street retailer Argos last month announced a click-and-collect service with online auction house Ebay.