Nowadays, it’s no longer possible to describe a ‘typical’ rail traveller. Whereas historically rail passengers consisted predominantly of either commuters or passengers on one-off journeys to visit friends, the expansion of high-speed networks globally means that rail is now rapidly becoming the preferred mode of travel. What does this opportunity mean for railways?
Travellers and expectations are changing
Rail companies that want to capitalise on the opportunity offered by this new enthusiasm for rail will need to change the way they think about, and deal with, the customer. The comparison of Rail Travel vs Air Travel is a fact in the rail industry, to compete effectively with airlines and other modes of transport, as well as with new rail competitors within domestic markets, rail companies will need to become customer-focused: putting the traveller at the heart of everything they do. Thinking about the rail customer experience and the rail journey perception should be a priority.
The key to creating a customer-centric business: effective information
Giving the traveller the right information, at the right time, via the right channel, is imperative and it is an area in which the rail industry has historically lagged behind other travel segments. The modern rail traveller is used to the level of service offered by travel agents and airlines, which is often more advanced than that seen in rail in terms of providing information about their journey, potential disruption and destination information.
There are options for rail companies to move towards offering this, as both the technology and industry framework is already in place. At Amadeus, we have developed our RAILyourWAY offer of solutions to help rail companies to modernise, enabling customer-centric distribution and IT for operations.
Furthermore, in 2011, the rail industry took an important step towards improving the information available to the passenger: the TAP TSI initiative, which mandates, among other things, that rail companies make their schedules and fares available in a standardised format, so that the long-awaited open access can become the norm within the European rail industry.
The main beneficiary of TAP TSI will be the traveller – who will be able to effectively:
- Compare their travel options,
- Benefit from accurate rail information,
- And plan their itineraries more effectively.