A new report launched today entitled Back on Track calls on the international rail industry to embrace a shared approach to customer IT systems in order to meet the multiple challenges of growing passenger numbers, increasing financial pressures and rising customer expectations.
Authored by Professor James Woudhuysen, a world-renowned professor of forecasting and innovation, and sponsored by Amadeus, a leading travel technology partner and transaction processor for the global travel and tourism industry, the report aims to help the rail industry understand how outsourcing can help drive modernisation so that the objectives laid out in the EC Whitepaper - ‘Roadmap to a single European transport network’ - can be achieved.
Back on Track argues that the rail industry, which has long been held back by legacy IT systems, should consider adopting next generation IT solutions, similar to those used by airlines, to raise productivity, cut costs, and improve the customer experience. The concept of an outsourced community platform, a shared system used by rival rail companies to manage customer processing, means rail companies would benefit from the latest technology whilst remaining free to innovate and differentiate. This approach would see the rail experience transformed, allowing for personalised journeys, the selling of ancillary services and multiple options for ticketing.
According to the report, adopting the community platform across the rail industry would allow rail both to compete and cooperate more fully with airlines, making a single ticket for a multi modal journey a reality for the first time. In addition, the sharing of IT systems would mean that rail companies could rely on a business community with similar interests to support commercial developments such as alliance and network collaboration.
The report’s author, James Woudhuysen said: “The entire rail sector has an interest in IT systems that are collectively developed and collectively applied. Coherent, accurate and single-source data, speedily acquired and transmitted, intelligibly displayed, will make a big difference to every passenger. This approach is proven to support companies take advantage of next generation IT without having to pour millions of euros into the development of new proprietary systems.”
The report pays particular attention to how outsourcing IT systems to a community platform will free rail companies to focus on improving the customer experience both onboard and in the station and to fully take advantage of the significant growth opportunities for international rail.
Thomas Drexler, Director of Amadeus Rail commented: “When it comes to major developments in passenger transport, the next decade looks set to be the decade of rail. However, from our discussions with rail companies, one area threatening to hold back progress is technology. Drawing on the insights and expertise of Professor James Woudhuysen, we hope that this paper will promote new thinking and stimulates discussion about how best to capitalise on the abundant opportunities present in the rail sector over the next few years.”