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Multimodality: a travel industry at a crossroads

August 30, 2013
Author: Nicola Reed

In the first of two blog posts exploring multimodal travel in Europe, our guest blogger, Amadeus Senior Manager Rail & AWT Project Manager, Jean-Marc Garzulino outlines some of the frustrations faced by travellers today, and takes a look at how the future might look in a world where true multimodality exists. 

The team here at Amadeus Rail firmly believes that multimodality – improved connectivity between different transport modes, such as air, rail and urban transport, throughout the passenger travel experience - will be key to the future of the European travel industry. We’re involved in a number of industry initiatives, including All Ways Travelling, which will be instrumental in driving developments that will enable multimodality to become a reality.

Within the rail industry specifically it’s a topic that is attracting much interest and debate. The linking of rail with different transport modes will ultimately assist rail companies in better addressing their 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 reality today is a long way from this vision. When booking a journey across Europe, the traveller will invariably find themselves navigating their way around a complex web of different travel retail sites, comparing departure and arrival times for different legs of their journey in order to establish a theoretically feasible connection, before committing to purchase different tickets for the separate journey legs. They’ll then embark on their journey armed with an array of tickets for the various transport modes and stages of their trip.

At the opposite end of the scale is the end-goal scenario, whereby the traveller would use a multimodal journey booking system, such as the one the All Ways Travelling consortium is developing a model for, to search for travel options across multiple operators and travel modes. Importantly the traveller would be presented with greater choice and a range of options for a door-to-door journey, utilising whichever modes of transport best suit their particular requirements.

Having made their selection, they would then book and pay for all modes of their trip in one transaction before setting off with a single ticket that covers the entire door-to-door journey, regardless of the number of transport modes involved. This ticket could one day be stored within the traveller’s smartphone and, with NFC technology, it wouldn’t even be necessary to scan the ticket itself – the traveller would be recognised by sensors in gates at various points of their journey. While en route to their destination, a trip tracker would be on hand, via their mobile device, to guide them through their journey, providing helpful information such as the gate number for their flight or to alert them to any disruptions or cancellations and enable them to easily rebook onto another mode of transport. 

The travel industry has many challenges to overcome before this vision becomes a reality.In next week’s blog post I’ll explore these challenges and look at how the industry is working to overcome them.



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