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How easy is it to book a train from Manchester to Milan?

Daniel Batchelor

Global Head of Corporate Communications, Amadeus IT Group

At the last Amadeus Rail Forum, I had the chance to talk to Mark Mallants, Chairman of the Management team at BeNe Rail International, to gather his thoughts on the evolution of the rail industry. BeNe RI is an international distribution technology joint venture set up by NS (Dutch Railways) and SNCB/NMBS (Belgian Railways), which has signed an agreement earlier this year with Amadeus to create a new rail community IT platform.

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I wanted to gauge Mark’s view on the forms that innovation would take in the rail sector within the next 10-15 years, and whether mobile would play an active role in this. I also sought to find out how personalized the trip experience would become and whether it would be the key driver of change in the rail industry.

Interview with Mark Mallants

Mark shared some very interesting points. First, innovation will arrive in two flows: one focusing entirely on the passenger, from the moment they book and leave their home, to the in-trip experience, getting to their final destination and beyond. Comforting the passenger and taking the pain points out of each step of the journey will be the main focus of rail providers, and indeed we have seen some interesting showcases of Amadeus solutions in place at the last rail forum. The second would happen behind-the-scenes with the standardization of IT, as the industry tries to resolve its issues with fragmented systems.

According to him, the on-going mobile revolution allows for an easier community model by working on open standards, not to mention the opportunities to engage and personalize the experience throughout the trip. The rail industry needs to be liberated of the antiquated notion that rail is just a means of ‘mass transportation’ – he believes the mindset is already there, but the transition needs to accelerate.

So how easy is it really to buy a ticket from Manchester to Milan today? Not easy at all. It was in fact much easier 30 years ago when European rail providers were less fragmented and more collaborative than today. With the aim of resolving the industry’s current challenges, BeNe Rail and Amadeus have an ambition to bring the whole industry together under one community – where each and every rail operator has its place and role to make rail travel a little better, from trip inspiration, shopping, after sales support and more – Mark is convinced this remarkable vision will inspire operators across Europe to kick-off the next big thing in rail travel.

Take a look at the interview below and leave us your comments.

Interview with Mark Mallants of BeNe Rail International

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