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UK seeks to revolutionise rail travel

Better use of data could also allow rail companies to plan more effectively and predict and fix issues before they arise, creating a more reliable railway

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One of the aims of the government's plan is to bring about better passenger information
One of the aims of the government's plan is to bring about better passenger information

UK train companies are to publish more real-time information to enable technology firms to develop intelligent travel apps for the future, under new plans announced by the Rail Minister Jo Johnson and Rail Delivery Group chief executive, Paul Plummer.

 

The aim is for closer working between rail and technology firms to bring about more seamless, hassle-free journeys, and better information for passengers on services and delays, as well as seats and on-board facilities, like toilets and refreshments. Better use of data could also allow rail companies to plan more effectively and to predict and fix issues before they arise, creating a more reliable railway.

 

The government and the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, have published the Joint rail data action plan, which sets out the obligations and deadlines for delivering on these ambitions, overseen by an industry-led taskforce.

 

“This will speed the development of travel apps that provide passengers with helpful information about their journeys,” said Transport Minister Jo Johnson.

 

Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, Paul Plummer, said that technology gave rise to the railway, connecting Britain, and the rail industry wants to “channel this spirit" to help produce cutting-edge products and services that can be exported around the world.

 

“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,” said Plummer.

 

Data will be released over the coming months to provide more consistent and timely information about train services, delays and disruption. Information will also be made available on the carriages that make up each train, enabling operators to more accurately communicate on board facilities, and to help passengers plan ahead and board in the most convenient place.

 

The rail industry will also identify and remove barriers to better information sharing by, for example, improving standardisation of how data is collected, stored and published, and improving clarity over which data is commercially sensitive and what data can be used for what purposes.

 

The government and rail industry will explore what incentives could be introduced to drive further innovation and data sharing, on top of that already planned.

 

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