Back on Track, a new report from Amadeus, calls on the international rail industry to embrace a shared approach to customer IT systems. The goal is to meet the multiple challenges of growing passenger numbers, increasing financial pressures and rising customer expectations.
Back on Track makes the case for the rail industry to 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 while remaining free to innovate and differentiate. This approach would see the rail experience transformed, allowing for personalized journeys, the selling of ancillary services and multiple options for ticketing," Amadeus says.
These ideas are relevant to the long-term future of rail in the U.S., where hopes are high that initial high-speed connections will be built for major routes such as Boston/Washington and Los Angeles/San Francisco, Amadeus says. They note that according to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, 22 separate projects may, in 25 years, connect 80 per cent of the population to high-speed rail.
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, the report notes. 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.
Thomas Drexler, director of Amadeus Rail, said, “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 (the report's author), we hope that this paper will promote new thinking and stimulate discussion about how best to capitalize on the abundant opportunities present in the rail sector over the next few years.”