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Shaping the future of travel through a seamless rail travel experience

Thomas Drexler

Director of Rail and Ground Travel, Amadeus IT Group

Looking ahead to the coming years there are a great deal of exciting things going on in the rail industry that are set to shape its future development. The impact of liberalisation will continue to be felt and more work will be done to better integrate rail within the travel ecosystem. We’ll also undoubtedly see further progress in linking rail, ground travel, air and urban transport as the travel industry collectively works towards a truly multimodal future.

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Let’s look firstly at liberalisation. Within Europe, the advent of liberalisaiton has opened up the continent’s expansive rail network to competition. While I welcome increased competition as a much-needed driver of development, bringing improved choice for the rail passenger, it’s incredibly important that industry players work together to realise the full potential of liberalisation and to avoid further fragmentation of services, particularly on some long-distance routes.

This brings me on to the wider issue of fragmentation. When you compare rail to other international travel sectors, such as air, it’s immediately apparent that the very foundations of the rail industry are disjointed in a way that other travel sectors are not. It’s an inevitable consequence of the way the rail industry has evolved with lots of separate rail providers that are first and foremost national rail carriers, focussed on their own domestic routes. The effect of this is a layer of complexity that extends across the traveller’s entire trip, from the initial search to the journey itself.

Fragmentation isn’t going to disappear overnight, and the industry needs to find ways to work around the associated challenges more effectively. Rail has got to be better integrated within the travel ecosystem than it is today. At the moment, travellers don’t always know that there is a potential train service for their journey as it’s simply not visible during their search! One of the big challenges is how to increase this visibility and rail operators need to make their content available and connect themselves with other transport modes in order to provide the customer with genuine choice.

Essentially, if more travellers are to be encouraged to choose the train, what is needed is a means of streamlining and simplifying the rail booking process to make the process of searching for, booking and embarking on an international rail journey a seamless and stress-free process.

Here at Amadeus Rail , that’s the future scenario we’re working towards. We’re constantly developing new features and functionality to enhance our suite of rail distribution and IT products and ultimately to make rail more readily available to travellers. Through the aggregation of multi-provider rail content, we’re making sure that the right technology is available for each channel to make rail as accessible as possible.

From a personal perspective, I often like to put myself in the shoes of a typical rail traveller and ask myself what single enhancement of the travel experience would make life easier. There’s no doubt that the ability to search for and book an international rail journey in one place and be issued with a ticket that covers my whole journey would do an enormous amount towards shaping a very exciting future for rail travel .


Tags

Multimodal Travel