I was recently a keynote speaker at the inaugural European Passenger Federation summit in Brussels, I must admit that I was looking forward to the event due to the fact it had a focus on the traveller.
My personal trip was going to take in a few legs along the way as I was due to meet some journalists in London following the summit, so I would see multi modal transport at its best. Unfortunately this whole trip looked like a non-starter as Brussels would be on a transport strike for my arrival day, I did therefore take the precaution and hire a limo service in advance, and this proved to be a wise decision.
There was an extremely good turnout for the one day event and the audience had a very good mix of railways, transport organisations, European parliament officials, travel commissions, public affairs and city authorities. Mr. Trevor Garrard, chairman of the EPF, welcomed the delegates and hoped for a rousing discussion on the travellers rights and expectations. He handed over to Mr. Christian Wolmar to moderate the event, Christian is an award winning writer and broadcaster on transport and an author of a series of books on railway history and did you know that Christian is now running for Mayor of London too?
The main theme recurring throughout was the need for intermodal passenger rights. The main message I wanted to share was that rail has to be integrated into the travel process for there to be a significant shift from other modes of transport such as the car, to entice more rail passengers. I presented our European rail travel trip to Vienna showing the fact that there was a different itinerary offered from each sales channel with no real collaboration across countries. It just makes it that harder for first time rail travellers to have confidence in getting from a to b. The projects that are ongoing too are all serving a purpose to help realise the pursuit of the 2011 EC white paper on transport vision. Allways Travelling, IT2Rail, FSM and Shift2Rail are all contributing to integrate rail through the different distribution channels so that travellers have a choice where to buy their rail ticket and have it as part of their total trip.
DG Move provided the results of a recently conducted passenger survey, which illustrated some interesting results: 78% respondents used public transport; 59% local urban; 34% national rail; 28% air; 14% long distance coach; 10% ship & ferry; 5% intl rail; 22% none. DG Move is engaged in an ongoing campaign to raise awareness of passenger rights over the course of next 3 years.
After the summit, my onward journey from Brussels to London was by Eurostar and their new Business Premier lounge is excellent; very comfortable, lots of things to read and refreshments available to help you relax before the journey. On board the service was excellent too, food was very good and it just made the whole experience enjoyable, only thing missing is the Wi-Fi.
Have a great Festive Season and New Year with family and friends, see you in 2015!