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Securing a multimodal future for Europe

September 03, 2013
Author: Nicola Reed

In last Friday’s blog post, Jean-Marc Garzulino explained some of the current frustrations faced by travellers with cross-border trips across Europe, and outlined a future, hassle-free scenario of a seamless multimodal travel experience. In today’s post, Jean-Marc takes a look at some of the challenges that the European travel industry must address in order for multimodality to prevail.

I mentioned in last week’s post that the European travel industry has several challenges that must be addressed and overcome before European travellers are able to enjoy a seamless door-to-door travel experience. The first of these challenges is to identify a clearer picture of the current volume of multimodal connections in Europe that are actually taking place. Amadeus is very well positioned in this respect; we have a huge amount of data spanning air and rail travel. We’re looking at how this can be used to estimate the volume of multimodal journeys that exist today but that are not yet available to search for or book through existing shopping functionality.

Another of the issues to overcome is the lack of data access (both static and real-time) and shared service information between providers, such as schedule information and real-time updates on travel disruptions. Similarly, commercial agreements between operators (and between operators and retailers) pose another challenge; these don’t yet exist within other transport modes in the same way that they do in the airline world, and this creates a disjointed travel process.

We are already seeing some interesting multimodal initiatives across Europe between airlines, rail companies and coach operators. But it is within urban transport – the ‘first and last mile’ stages of a typical cross-border, multimodal journey – that we have so far seen the greatest levels of development. Take the examples of Transport for London, which invested heavily in the implementation of a city-wide multimodal transport system, linking tube, train, bus and river-based transport, that was completed for the 2012 Olympic Games, or Grand Lyon which recently launched its open data platform - Smart Data – which provides practical information about the urban Lyon area, such as the location of cycle hire stations around the city.

Ultimately for this same level of multimodality to extend to the ‘middle miles’ of the journey – namely air, rail, ferry and coach – it will come down to key industry players, working together.

Representatives of the different transport and infrastructure providers will need to collaborate to share information and develop the tools that will enable the traveller of tomorrow to enjoy a seamless travel experience from their initial search right through to arrival at their destination.

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