Customers want better, more connected journeys

Andy Slater, Business Director for Metro and Light Rail
19 May 2017
Image of a speeding train.
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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. Andy Slater of Amey Consulting argues that the bottom line is that customers want better, more connected journeys.

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 in the last financial year. There has been a 116% increase in passengers over 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 to build capacity for future population growth is vital. Yes, we need to build a network that can withstand even further passenger growth and demand. But improving and building new rail infrastructure is just as much about connectivity with other networks and connectivity of assets as well as customers through enhanced digital services.

Customers want, need and demand to be continuously connected through their journeys, and have the ability and flexibility to change their travel plans seamlessly through a single device and application.

The concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) means embracing the idea of connecting multi-modal transport links together for journeys that are easier, more flexible and as painless as possible.

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 should play in transforming transport systems.

The Rail Sector Deal submitted to Government at the end of October provides a single industry view on how to evolve and move the railways into a digital world and start to address the needs of both Intelligent Mobility and MaaS.

Customer experience, innovation, including digitalisation, and Sustainable UK Rail are the themes being explored as part of the Deal to deliver a transformative ‘world leading’ transport network. 

As demand for more connected journeys grows we need smart solutions that are fit for the 21st century and beyond. Amey Consulting’s unique combination of expertise and operational nous is at the forefront of these developments.

Changing our approach

Amey Consulting is the result of fusing our trusted approach to operational infrastructure management with our respected consulting capabilities 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. This approach to ‘intelligent operations’ is the value we deliver. Clients trust us to manage, improve, and maximise performance and to pass these benefits onto passengers.

It's already tried and tested in the UK rail sector. Since starting to manage and maintain the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly tubelines in 2003 we have delivered a 69% improvement in lost customer hours by blending technology, operational and asset management processes and systems with people skills.

Similarly, on the Docklands 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, carrying over 120m passengers each year. We continue to maintain industry leading levels of performance as passenger numbers grow. Our joint venture with Keolis recently won a 10-year contract to manage and operate Greater Manchester’s Metrolink where we will 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

Science and intelligent use of data are central to the concept of ‘intelligent operations’. We’re specialists in not only capturing the right information but our team of around 3,000 consultants – each with a diverse skill set –can interpret and translate data, allowing our operational experts to create decisions that culminate in outcomes for our customers. Our vision is that decisions about infrastructure and or operations will be made on what the science is telling us rather than being purely driven by budget – because we know it works.

On London Underground, we managed the introduction of a new enterprise asset management system and upskilled our people to drive data-led operations decision models. This meant everything from using real-time data to predict equipment failure to pre-empting 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 the country’s light rail, tram and metro networks are expected to grow strongly with passenger journeys up by 9% annually.

As Docklands Light Railway and the Manchester Metrolink have grown 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 set us apart. They bring intelligence to data and this, combined with our expertise for operational excellence, helps us make journeys better. I call it ‘the human in the loop’ - using combined data analytics to create decision-aiding tools which our experienced operations management teams use every day.

And it’s not just in the UK. We’re also putting our experience to work overseas. For New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, we’re helping provide an even more reliable service to the 300,000 daily passengers on the Long Island Rail Road by supporting an enterprise-wide asset management program. To support Sydney Trains’ investment in a new Enterprise Asset Management System and its drive for ISO55001 accreditation, we are transferring our knowledge on the symbiotic relationship between data, analytics and operational expertise to drive higher performance levels.

Our skills and expertise combined with technology and innovation knowhow means we make really smart decisions for both rail infrastructure and operational investments. And this integrated way of thinking delivers value to passengers. 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 make their journeys better and more connected.

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