Customers want better, more connected journeys

The rail industry has been under the media microscope a lot of late, with many passengers unhappy about fare increases and the continued scrutiny over the value of large-scale investment projects. The bottom line is that customers want better, more connected journeys.

Amey PLC United Kingdom 23/05/2017 18:58:41

In a recent interview, the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said “we are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for more than a century, providing more seats and services.” And when you start looking at passenger numbers, it’s easy to see why this kind of investment is needed.

According to the Office of Rail and Road’s Passenger rail usage statistics there were 1.73 billion passenger journeys in the UK between December 2015 and December 2016. This represents a 116% increase in passengers in the last 20 years and Network Rail’s analysis predicts this will double again over the next 30 years.

Connecting the UK’s transport systems

Investing in rail as part of the UK’s transport systems is, of course, important. We need to build a network that can withstand even further passenger growth and demand, but the focus of both improving and building new rail infrastructure is as much about connectivity with other networks.

In an ideal world, public transport timetables would sync together, there’d be a single ticketing system and customers would be able to move fluidly between traditional rail, metro or light rail and bus services. But making this a reality calls for intelligent mobility to be built in to transport projects from the very beginning. This is something that the Department for Transport is already starting to drive by looking at the way operators and developers work together, and highlighting the role that technology has to play in transforming transport systems.

The increased demand on the rail network and a greater appetite for more connected journeys means that we, at Amey, are using a combination of expertise to deliver smart solutions that are fit for the 21st century and beyond.

Changing our approach

While historically, we were best known for our operational infrastructure services, our business has adapted over the past five years or so to fuse this with our capabilities in Amey’s Consulting business to offer a unique blend of skills and expertise in the rail market.

With one of the broadest range of services in the sector, our holistic approach to asset management includes everything from advisory and design services, through to performance monitoring and operations as well as commercial property management. Building and integrating data management and business intelligence into data analytics that drive a smarter approach to asset management is where our client base has seen the biggest benefits. Clients trust us to manage, improve, and maximise performance and to pass these benefits onto passengers, this is the value we deliver

Our end-to-end approach was piloted in the UK rail sector and has been tried and tested. In London, we’ve been managing and maintaining the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Tubelines since 2003 and in that time we have delivered a 69% improvement in lost customer hours – all thanks to blending technology, operational and asset management processes and systems with people skills.

Similarly on the Dockland Light Railway, our joint venture with Keolis is focused on improving performance year on year and we are proud to operate the busiest light railway in the UK. And we continue to maintain industry leading levels of performance as passenger numbers continue to expand and grow. Our joint venture with Keolis has also recently been awarded a 10-year contract to manage and operation Greater Manchester’s Metrolink which will see us use our expertise to boost performance and customer service.

Building on these successes is the number one focus of my team and we’ll be working with other teams within Amey to not only improve the performance of services but join up passenger journeys.

Driven by science and data

Sitting right at the centre of our approach is science and intelligent use of data, and we’re specialists in not only capturing the right information but we have a team of over 2,500 consultants – each with a diverse skill set – who can interpret the data and translate it into outcomes for our customers. Our vision is that decisions about infrastructure will be made on what the science is telling us rather than being purely driven by budget – because we know it works.

Again, on our London Underground contract, we managed the introduction of a new enterprise asset management system and upskilled our people to drive data-led operations decision models. This could mean anything from using real-time data to predict equipment failure and pre-empt downtime by deploying maintenance teams in advance on track, trains or even station escalators.

Data is also telling us how people’s transport habits are changing. According to Gov.uk the country’s light rail, tram and metro networks are expected to grow strongly and passenger journeys are set to increase by an estimated 9% annually.

Docklands Light Railway and the Manchester Metrolink are two examples of where we’ve seen this growth trend and both networks have swollen over the years to accommodate additional demand. My light rail and metro team have been tasked with supporting delivery today and future-proofing for tomorrow.

Powered by people

While data and science are the foundation of our smart solutions, it’s our people and their skills that really set us apart. Having worked in the industry for the past 18 years, it was Amey’s distinct approach to rail delivery that first appealed to me.

It’s our people who bring intelligence to data and this, combined with our expertise for operational excellence, is what’s helping us make journeys better. It could be termed as ‘human in the loop’, but in essence, we’re using our combined data analytics to create decision-aiding tools, that our experienced operations management teams deliver on a day to day basis.

And it’s not just here in the UK that our people’s power and expertise is being recognised – we’re also putting our experience to work overseas. As part of a new contract with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), we’ll be helping to provide an even more reliable service to the 300,000 people who use the Long Island Rail Road daily by supporting an enterprise-wide asset management program.

For rail specifically, it’s our combination of skills and expertise along with our technology and innovation knowhow that means we make really smart decisions for both infrastructure and operational investments. The result is an integrated way of thinking and an approach that delivers value to the passengers that use our services every single day. It doesn’t matter whether we’re working on a major rail project or just making an incremental improvement, absolutely everything we do is carefully calculated to provide better, more connected journeys for passengers.