If rail travel in Australia and New Zealand has any hopes of playing on the same field as cheap air travel, luxury coaches, and Uber, it need a bit of a shake up.
And that’s exactly what new Amadeus research is harping on about, as they seek to inform a new discussion paper on the future of APAC rail.
One of the interviewees, head of IT at NSW Trains Grant Swinbourne, says rail needs to find ways to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive market, and become more open and integrated.
The paper is called, ‘Changing tracks: five make or break factors to unlock rail travel in Asia Pacific’, and identifies five factors that rail operators should embrace to maximise passenger levels, revenue, and ensure a strong future for rail travel in the region:
1. Look to capture new customers
As new travel choices emerge and travellers are increasingly diverse in backgrounds and needs, rail operators must play a greater role in the wider travel ecosystem by ensure they meet the needs of both frequent and infrequent travellers.
2. Timetables, booking options and data should be made more available:
Make rail timetables and booking information easy for travellers to understand and book online, and data more open and available to feed to third party services and applications; which can improve the overall traveller experience.
3. Take a mobile-first approach to passenger-engagement:
With more than 4 billion mobile connections in the APAC region, it’s vital that rail operators improve the end-to-end customer experience.
Younger generations and business travellers want to use their smartphone each step of the journey: planning, seat reservations, payment, ticketing, journey tracking, understanding arrival times and sharing reviews.
4. Rail operators must complement, cooperate and compete:
For travellers, the journey between place of departure to destination often requires several modes of transport, but it’s rarely possible to benefit from a multi-modal experience.
Travel operators will benefit when they collaborate to overcome challenges and help their travellers enjoy a seamless travel experience.
5. Make payments easy:
Contactless bank cards and mobile payment services are changing the way goods and services are sold and delivered. Already we’ve seen the success of automated/embedded payments within the travel industry, through services like Airbnb and Uber.
Rail operators should be ready to embrace new payment options for ease and convenience of passengers.