The first reaction from railway companies to Pokemon GO, the app-incarnation of the popular 90s trading card and video game, was to be cautious.
Stories of people having to be rescued from caves while out attempting to snag rare Pokemon has naturally concerned train operators around the world. Suddenly there is the risk that trainers, as they are called, could step off platforms into oncoming trains because they spotted a Growlithe on the tracks.
Sweden’s rail infrastructure manager, Trafikverket, has warned of the ‘inappropriate’ and ‘downright dangerous’ behaviour it has witnessed from some players near railway lines.
Although it had not been inundated with reports Pokemon GO-related near misses, the British Transport Police (BTP) sent out a Tweet last week to remind passengers in the UK of the risks – the Tweet included a photo taken by a member of staff showing a Pokemon hiding on track.
— BTP (@BTP) July 15, 2016
But operators, like many businesses and community groups, are also looking at how they can benefit from the craze. Public transport is an efficient way of travelling around a town or city catching Pokemon and visiting PokeStop’s – locations that gift players useful items.
Merseyrail and Stagecoach Supertram have both looked to do this, using Twitter to encourage passengers to search at their stops.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has produced a helpful guide to the items and Pokemon that can be found around its routes and stations. It has also set up a dedicated Pokemon GO Twitter account, @PokemonGOMetro, and is planning a ‘Pokemon GO Metro Gold Line takeover’ this Sunday.
— Stagecoach Supertram (@SCSupertram) July 19, 2016
Operators like Virgin Trains East Coast have recognised that the game is a great way to interact with their customers. But the common message is to stay alert and remember that it is not only against the law to trespass on the railway, certainly in the UK and many parts of the world, it is also exceptionally dangerous. Have fun, but stay safe.