We’re creating a more connected travel industry, underpinned by sustainability and long-term investor relations.
Director of Rail and Ground Travel, Amadeus IT Group
Intermodal connections, in particular air-rail, have been gaining important traction over the last few years. This is especially the case in Europe where high-speed rail routes have increased at a fast pace over the last few years. We are seeing a challenging travel marketplace in which these connections are beginning to substitute or take over some air routes, particularly short-haul or regional ones which tend to be less profitable. As a result, airlines are seeing improved cost-effectiveness as rail companies gradually feed their more lucrative long-haul routes.
Amadeus has been at the forefront of this trend for some time now to answer the needs of the market. Our Air-Rail Display has allowed travel agencies using Amadeus Selling Platform to book air with additional rail content on the same screen, for Eurostar,Thalys and Trenitalia.
In addition to these providers, now Hahn Air, the e-ticketing expert, has chosen Amadeus to introduce its rail offer “speed-alliance®” into the Air-Rail Display using the IATA designator 5W. With the launch of the first phase, selected rail routes of WestBahn in Austriaand NTV in Italy can be booked worldwide.
What benefits does the Air-Rail Display bring? This integration means travel agents can easily compare and contrast rail with air routes in an instant. In doing so, they may discover new travel options they might not have been aware of. Imagine you want to get from Vienna to Salzburg with WestBahn, a private Austrian rail company that has run train services on Austria's Western Railway since December 2011. It might well be cheaper as well as possibly faster to take the train, when you consider the train takes you from city centre to city centre in 2.5 hours, compared to a 50 minute flight plus travel time to and from the airport, as well as the time it takes to clear check-in and security. What’s good is that all options can conveniently be viewed in one screen to make the best travel choice. Afterwards, you can book the rail ticket in exactly the same way as an airline ticket, receiving confirmation of the sale in real time.
For railways, this is a straightforward way to become part of the “air” world, enabling them to compete but also to combine their routes with flights. Railways also gain extra visibility with Amadeus’ global network of travel agencies and corporations, potentially acquiring new customers, increasing revenue, and making their train services as easy to sell as air travel.
The traveller has a lot to gain from the Air-Rail Display. Eventually the travel experience can improve by having added visibility of new rail routes alongside air, being able to make the right travel choice as a result. Having broader travel options means travellers may well get closer to their end destination, reducing trip time. They may also prefer having convenient advantages, such as a wi-fi network and extra leg room.
The fact is that high-speed rail passenger volumes will continue to grow (+44% by 2020*) and complement airlines at the same time, but it must be visible to travellers via their preferred sales channels, whether it be a business trip or for leisure.
* Compared to 2011. Source: The Rail Journey to 2020