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    Three railway segments have evolved with a focus on new business, competition and demands from the traveller, each of them, with a different goal. 

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2015: the year of disruption

January 22, 2016
Author: Ibilola Okusaga

How many times did you hear the word “disruptor” in 2015? Whether it came in a presentation at a conference, or from disruption on a global scale, with one of the mildest years on record with record temperatures found all over the world and polar ice caps receding like never before.Severe hot, cold or wet weather seems to be common place in different continents. But what were the challenges and disruptors in the rail and travel sector

There are new forms of competition for railways, with the sharing economy breathing life into the way we, and the traveller changing his behaviour. But all is not doom and gloom, as the number of travellers continues to grow year in year out, with UNWTO expecting the final figures of 2015 to be 3-4% above the 1.1 billion people that travelled abroad in 2014.

The rail renaissance is in full swing and travel is benefiting from the new advances in technology helping service providers and travel sellers to be more creative, more productive and more personalised.


Sharing economy, friend or foe?

There were many challenges too for railways throughout 2015, the sharing economy model has created new disruptive players such as Airbnb and BlaBla car. Albert Cañigueral a world specialist of the collaborative economy, the founder of ConsumoColaborativo.com and a Spanish connector to OuiShare, presented at the Amadeus Rail forum Barcelona in June and summed up the opportunity. A rail company can benefit from the collaborative economy: e.g. a partnership with a local transport company such as Zipcar, develop its own carpooling application, rethinking what to do with empty spaces in stations (maybe a co-working?) or using open data and APIs to foster open innovation processes. He has been working with SNCF to look at how this phenomenon can be used to better serve their customers.


The year of competition

2015 saw the rise of the coach and bus with companies taking great advantage of international deregulationCompetition has also come from new entrant railways such as L.E.O Express, who have shown that it is possible to run a railway profitably despite the many barriers to success. Having a multi-sales channel approach can only improve accessibility and brand visibility, thus increasing revenue from new passengers. 

Railways are losing margins of market share while protecting their large market share versus new railways. What should railways do to face the deregulation? 

  • Trusting new multi sales channels will help railways launch in new markets, position themselves versus competition
  • A better collaboration by the railways to provide travellers with an end to end service 
  • Building a truly global distribution network and tapping into the many opportunities presented to them through third party retailers 

Eurostar is a great example of adapting to the deregulation, Eurostar is now available on lastminute.com in the UK thanks to the integration of the Amadeus Rail Web Services, which is helping railways connect to the online travel agent experts. This integration gives lastminute.com and other retailers, the opportunity to sell more railways at a reduced cost through one single web service.


Multi-channel distribution

Amadeus has continued to launch Rail Display in numerous markets in 2015: the Benelux, Germany and Switzerland, a market Amadeus is penetrating thanks to rail content, with already 15 points of sales using Rail Display. These implementations are helping railways and travel sellers to save 90% manual work when making a rail reservation and helping railways such as SNCF in international and domestic sales.

Another example is the new provider to Amadeus, MTR, thus making Amadeus the only GDS and rail distributor providing MTR products and services through multi sales channels. MTR is now available through


The traveller and new sales channels 

Did you know that by 2020 over 70% of the world is predicted to owning a smartphone? Mobile is key to keep in touch with its customers. Railways will have to invest if they want to retain control over and influence the traveller in the new hyper-personal and contextual, connected world of smartphones and travel. All of this new development whether its competition, technology, sharing economy will provide the traveller with more choice. Being rail available in more channels and in more countries will benefit from its competition. 

Distribution is definitely the key for 2016 when railways must enter into unfamiliar territory. Corporate booking tools, online retailers, travel management companies, SMEs all require an easier method of booking rail to answer customers’ needs. So whether you are a Simplicity Seeker a Cultural Purist or one of the many Obligation Meeters, rail is becoming more accessible through many more different channels.


Discover the innovative technology helping railways serve the traveller in a more personalised and efficient way 

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