To become a more attractive option, rail must respond to customer needs to support anytime, anywhere, door-to-door, intermodal journeys encompassing distinct modes of transportation. Rail must achieve interoperability with other transport modes and mobility services, with regions, cities and people engaged in social and economic activities, and with the key elements of the supply chains which can make rail products and services available to those people. In order to achieve this, rail needs to take due advantage of the increasing connectivity of people and objects, the availability of European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)-based locations, the advances in cloud computing, big, linked and open data and the propagation of internet and social media. The step towards sharing data needs to be considered and progressively developed, in order to enable service developers to provide connected travellers with the services they need and expect.
Customers are increasingly technology-savvy, and expect to have relevant information at their fingertips in a few clicks, through a wide variety of data channels offering real-time and personalised information. To achieve a full seamless multimodal travel experience, customers must be able to easily plan and purchase door-to-door journeys. Ticketless or multi-application solutions that guarantee interconnectivity no matter where the traveller roams should become the norm.
Improved information technology, management and exploitation, and cross-industry collaboration must help to provide passengers with smart and personalised services for journey information and ticket purchase, together with entertainment and communication services. The development of truly multimodal infrastructures, providing for simple and seamless interchanges, including across different transport modes (i.e. urban and regional rail, air transport, road transport, cycling and walking) should make transfers easy, comfortable and reliable. For this reason, timetables should be increasingly integrated across transport modes to allow better modal integration and minimise travellers’ inconvenience. Station and staff information systems and personalised messaging help passengers throughout their journey, including the offer of alternative arrangements in case of disruption. Technologies able to integrate current and emerging standards are to be promoted through an interoperability framework.
In this respect, it is essential to ensure that sufficient data are made available from all relevant actors in the railway sector, so as to properly reap the benefits of these innovative IT services, which are key to the establishment of a fully functioning Single European Railway Area (SERA) and Single European Transport System. It is also important to include the expertise of indirect distribution providers such as travel agencies and other travel intermediaries.
Within IP4, solutions from other relevant sectors must be analysed, best practice solutions adapted to the rail sector and standards considered. Equally, IP4 should draw on the results of industry initiatives or guidelines such as the Full Service Model for Rail, as well as EC-funded projects such as ‘All Ways Travelling’, ‘IFM’ and EU Spirit’.
Work in IP4 will be organised so as to achieve the objectives of the three R&I areas listed in the Shift2Rail Master Plan: Technical framework, Customer experience applications and Multimodal travel services.
The aim of the ‘Interoperability Framework’ (TD4.1) is to facilitate multimodal travel in a highly diverse environment and with many transport modes. The world of transportation service providers needs to be open-ended; it evolves at its own pace, and uses multiple data formats and interfaces. Interoperability at the semantic level defines formal and explicit models of the transportation domain in an open, standard, machine-readable language that is exchanged automatically by computers.
The ‘Travel Shopping’ (TD4.2) aims to provide a comprehensive shopping application enabler which combines all modes of transport, all operators and all geographies, and provides a list of customer-relevant trip offers which are guaranteed available for booking, purchase and ticketing. The IP4 approach will promote the integration of distributed travel operators’ data and the orchestration of services such as expert journey planning. It will be facilitated by the Interoperability Framework by enabling applications based upon different standards or coding lists, to communicate meaningfully but without costly application adaptations.
The ‘Booking & Ticketing’ (TD4.3) will orchestrate multiple but parallel interactions with several booking, payment and ticketing engines, including the all-important roll-back activities, should any single transaction fail, in order to eliminate risk. Thanks to the concept of a unique traveller identifier and wallet, the traveller will have easy access to the complete and integral components of his/her journey, including easy production of the entitlement tokens required for all ticket validation controls encountered en route. It will radically simplify the traveller’s life, by abolishing uncertainties associated with ‘behind-the-scenes’ multiple booking, payment and ticket processes.
The ‘Trip-tracker’ (TD4.4) will give travellers in-trip assistance when navigating transport nodes, while also providing personalised information (related to predefined preferences) and up-to-date status reports on subsequent legs of the journey; it will support them in case of disruption, by proposing updated booking possibilities together with updated rights to travel.
The traveller will have full control of the journey, thanks to their own personal and secured ‘Travel Companion’ (TD4.5), which stores and shares their personal preferences in a wallet. It will give access to all travel services needed for the journey, shopping and booking, and allow storage of the rights to travel. At the same time, retailers and operators will be able to identify and authorise the Travel Companion to access their own systems and networks.
All the services related to individual travels and to additional sensors will generate a great deal of data which have great value for both operators and end users. It will be the role of the ‘Business Analytics’ (TD4.6) to manage those data. Novel ‘big data’ technologies such as ‘intentional’ semantic information (denoting objects by properties rather than by values) will improve the capabilities to analyse distributed and heterogeneous linked data, creating numerous possibilities to generate unprecedented insights for all the actors of the ecosystem, and new intelligence for the benefit of operators and travellers.
Although IP4 is organised around six Technology Demonstrators (TDs) with clear and non-overlapping objectives, all input will contribute to a specific IP4-integrated Technical Demonstrator (iTD4.7), which will act as the orchestrator of other TDs’ developments, and which will ensure the systems approach to integrate the different TDs’ results.
The ‘Indicative list of priority research and innovation activities’ in the draft Shift2Rail strategic Multi-Annual Action Plan is available in the Reference Documents > Shift2Rail JU Documents section.
The latest IP4 documentation is available here: http://shift2rail.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/19122016_S2R-IP4-latest-updates.pdf