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RAIL BOOKING


THE CONSULTANT


Simplification, innovation and a more meaningful conversation would improve business travel by rail


NICK BAMFORD, associate – ground/rail services, Black Box Partnerships 1. Simpler fares: We need simpler fares, but the RDG’s suggested timescale of three to five years will be disappointing to many. Some of the changes will require new technology or a rethink of franchise conditions, which won’t happen overnight.


But other improvements could be delivered today and the barriers to their implementation appear more political than technical. 2. Innovation: We need to broaden and standardise the benefits of innovation. Train operators have made significant improvements, but most of these have been implemented by individual companies rather than at an industry level. This can lead to confusion and an- noyance when valued product benefits aren’t available across all services, so let’s see the industry collaborate. 3.More conversations: We must start a meaningful conversation around business rail travel, which accounts for nearly 10 per cent of total rail spend, although it’s estimated that only 50 per cent of it goes through TMCs. Yet the needs of business travellers are poorly understood and conversations between stakeholders (train operators, TMCs, the RDG and technology providers) often create more heat than light. If we want to make the most of the significant


opportunities provided by, for example, fares reform and innovation, then we need to find a new, common agenda that drives the conversation forward.


WE NEED


SIMPLER FARES, BUT THE RDG’S SUGGESTED TIMESCALE OF THREE TO FIVE YEARS WILL BE DISAPPOINTING TO MANY


OPENING UP INDUSTRY DATA


For Andrew Cantrell, IT director, Evolvi Rail Systems, one of the biggest areas of concern for rail users is the availability and accuracy of information when services are disrupted. He has welcomed the government’s Joint Rail Data Action Plan, which was published in August last year. It explains how the government


and the rail industry, including the Rail Delivery Group, Network


134 MAY/JUNE 2019


Rail, the Office of Rail and Road, and the Rail Safety and Standards Board, will “work together to improve the quality and openness of rail data”. “The commitment in this plan


demonstrates a willingness to share data that can unlock innovation among technology and ticket-issuing system providers, such as Evolvi Rail Systems,” Cantrell says.


buyingbusinesstravel.com


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