Back on Track with shared IT approach

A new report is calling 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. Back on Track, authored by professor James Woudhuysen and sponsored by Amadeus, aims to help the rail industry understand how outsourcing can help drive modernization so that the objectives laid out in the European Community white paper – Road Map To A Single European Transport Network – can be achieved. The report 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 while remaining free to innovate and differentiate. This approach, the new report says, would see the rail experience transformed, allowing for personalized journeys, the selling of ancillary services and multiple options for ticketing. As well, Back on Track points out that 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. Author 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 help companies take advantage of next generation IT without having to pour millions of euros into the development of new proprietary systems.” Thomas Drexler, director of Amadeus Rail, pointed out that: “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 stimulate discussion about how best to capitalize on the abundant opportunities present in the rail sector over the next few years.” For more, go to .