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4 ways mobile technology is enhancing rail travel

February 17, 2017
Author: Marta Desviat

Technology is powering all customer touchpoints, and when it comes to rail travel, there are some great success stories about mobile technology and railways. Nowadays most of the railways are using innovative systems to reach their customers anywhere and anytime for a more personalised journey. Keep on reading to learn how railways have evolved using mobile technology

How is mobile technology enhancing rail travel? 

  • Automated information: it means all information is instantly available at the traveller's fingertips. For railways, all operations are automated leading to time and cost saving.
  • Collaboration: travel technology is powering collaboration for the whole travel ecosystem. A great example is SNCF door-to-door services for business travellers. 
  • Personalisation: keeping track of customers’ interests and bookings are helping railways to deliver a more personalised journey. 
  • All in one: from ticket booking to ancillary services, all transactions can be managed in a single place.

Let's see some examples of railways mobile apps: 

Station navigation: hassle free 

The stress of walking through an unfamiliar train station is solved with Virgin Trains Explorer APP. Launched at the end of October 2016, the APP helps travellers find their way around shops and platforms. But that's not all, the app delivers real-time automatic sign translation too, reading the signs in the traveller's own language. The app is delivering baggage tracking, real-time travel data plus real-time positioning. 

Virgin Trains Mobile APP


TIME SAVED WITH Ticketless rail travel 

Flytoget, the operator of Olso's airport express train, has partnered with SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) to create new services for customers by introducing a new APP. Flytoget main objective is to be the preferred option when travelling between the airport and the city centre. With the app, travellers can purchase and receive tickets directly on their phone, avoiding the need to spend unnecessary time buying them on the platform, and they can see all departures in real time. Travellers simply have to scan the ticket before leaving the airport and head to the train platform. This is how mobile technology can reduce time when purchasing a ticket

Flytoget SAS Rail travel


beacon technologies: TGV pro

The TGV mobile APP has been named as the essential app for business travellers. Not only because it's ticketless but also because innovation is part of its DNA, making the journey smoother. The traveller can: 

  • Exchange e-ticket right from the phone
  • Get real-time information, including platform, any delays or disruption
  • Get access to an exclusive free digital Kiosk, available the day before the journey
SNCF has also implemented beacon technologies in Paris Gare de Lyon, which allows the TGV pro mobile app to listen to the signals installed in the trains and deliver a response. So what does this all mean for the traveller? Simple, when the train inspector is approaching the coach, the ticket is automatically displayed on the phone.

TGV app beacon technologies


Towards a safer and more personalised journey

Beacon technologies such as wearables and hearables will offer even more touch points with the traveller. In the near future:

  • Wearables (such Apple Watch) will be widely adopted, making us wear our train ticket

  • Personalised, hearables can provide detailed information on stations and trains as the traveller moves from one place to another

The use of beacon technologies combined with Big Data analytics will allow rail companies to get real-time insight into customer behaviour and anticipate their needs with relevant recommendations and offers. As a result, the rail travel experience will become more personalised.

Last, payments solutions security should be the main purpose of every mobile app and will play a key role in its success. Railways must collaborate with leading technology partners to ensure the eradication of any cyber threat exposing passenger's data. 

Online travel 2020


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