UK train companies will publish real-time data on rail travel, to allow technology companies to develop innovative and intelligent apps.
New apps developed by technology companies could use real-time data on rail travel to optimise journey times, provide travel advice for passengers and improve the reliability of services, which in turn could encourage more travellers to take advantage of train services and drive up passenger numbers. This would serve the UK’s overall ambitions to decrease carbon dioxide emissions.
The plans were announced by UK Rail Minister Jo Johnson and Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the country’s rail industry. The Joint rail delivery action plan details the specific requirements and expectations of train companies to ensure the requisite data is available, and also outlines the responsibility of an industry-led taskforce which will oversee the project.
How could the data impact train services in the UK?
Train companies generate vast quantities of data, and by releasing this data could enable app developers to provide better information to passengers on services and delays, availability of seating, on-board facilities and access.
In addition, the project will encourage train companies to improve standardisation of data collection and storage, which in turn will remove barriers to better information sharing. The rail industry, meanwhile, hopes to take advantage of technology to provide cutting-edge products and services; what’s more, this approach could translate to many other countries around the world, widening the potential impact for the global rail sector.
What have the stakeholders said about the project?
According to Plummer, the advantage of providing more information to consumers through apps is that they are given more control over their journey. He explained: “Digital technology in rail already means more timely information and less time spent waiting, helping to put customers in charge, and as part of the rail industry’s plan to change and improve we want to use technology to give customers more and more control.”