2020 seemed far away back in 2013 when we launched our ‘Rail Journey to 2020’ whitepaper, identifying the major trends that were about to define the future of European passenger rail over the coming years. But now, 5 years later, the 2020 horizon seems closer, what has changed in the market so far and which are the priorities nowadays for railways when it comes to preparing for competition.
Liberalisation, one of the 6 trends we identified, has provided one of the biggest shake-ups that the European rail industry has experienced in decades, the effects of which are already being felt.
Bringing with it opportunities for greater competition and improved choice for the rail passenger, players from across the industry need to work together to realise the potential of liberalisation and to avoid further fragmentation of services, particularly on some long-distance routes. As we move into the New Year, our key priority at Amadeus Rail will continue to be helping railways tap into the benefits by strengthening their international distribution capabilities.
As the year progressed, we continued our work with many of Europe’s major rail providers with a shared goal to help make rail more of a central component within the wider travel ecosystem. Rail faces a number of challenges to ensure it is as searchable and visible to travel sellers and customers as other modes of transport and we are constantly exploring innovative ways to make rail more readily accessible. Through the ongoing development of our Total Rail offering and the aggregation of multi-provider rail content, we’re making sure that the right technology is available for each channel in order to achieve this goal.
Looking back over the past 12 months, one word that is undoubtedly commanding more attention is ‘multimodality’. The linking of different transport modes is broadly welcomed because it will ultimately assist individual transport modes in becoming more attractive to the traveller by better addressing customers’ needs.
That’s what multimodality really comes down to improving the journey, from start to finish, by creating a simplified, seamless travel experience.
The move towards a multimodal Europe took an important step forward with the announcement in July of the appointment by the European Commission of All Ways Travelling (AWT). AWT is a consortium led by Amadeus, also including BeNe Rail, IATA, Thales, UNIFE and Zeppelin University, which aims to develop and validate a model for a multimodal pan-European passenger transport information and booking system.
The appointment forms part of the European Commission’s vision for a truly multimodal Europe where travellers can easily and habitually combine different transport modes to best match the requirements of their journey, from door-to-door. Rail is at the heart of this vision, not only for long-distance and medium-distance journeys but also providing commuter and urban rail services, often serving as the middle link between airline services and other modes of ground transport.
So that was this year, but what is 2014 likely to have in store? As the year unfolds the impact of liberalisation will continue to be felt, more work will be done to continue to integrate rail within the travel ecosystem, and further inroads will be made in the process of linking rail, ground travel, air and urban transport as the travel industry collectively works towards a truly multimodal future. In short, it’s an era of significant underlying change for the rail industry, and one in which rail companies that understand, adapt and respond to the changes, will be the ones to truly prosper in this new age of rail.