By Pierre-Yves Guillaume, Amadeus
Half a century ago, Japan built the world’s first high-speed rail network – known as yume chotokkyu – literally, the “super-express of dreams.” Fast forward to today, high-speed rail has become a dream come true for travellers all around the world. The rail travel market has grown nearly tenfold in the past 25 years, and the growth is largely driven by Asia Pacific. Multi-billion Dollar networks are already underway in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, with the high-speed rail (HSR) line linking Singapore and Kuala Lumpur expected to start operations around 2026. But how can rail become better integrated into the entire travel ecosystem and to offer a smoother experience for travellers?
Making rail an integrated part of the travel ecosystem
According to our report, Future Traveller Tribes 2030: Understanding Tomorrow’s Traveller, high-speed rail is expected to make up 30 percent of new track worldwide by 2030. We are tracking exciting momentum in the rail industry as high-speed rail networks develop in Asia Pacific, with Japan alone moving over 400 million rail passengers per year, and China adding no less than 8,000 kilometres of high-speed track by 2020. With this transformation in motion, one of the key areas that rail players need to address is that of making rail (not only high speed) more accessible to both travel sellers and the passengers.
Today if you want to book a cross-border or multi-modal journey, it can still be frustrating given the complexity and challenge of the booking process. From personal experience, it can often include some lengthy navigation on various travel sites to even find out the rail options on offer in some countries. Despite the huge growth and opportunity in Asia Pacific, rail content is not nearly as searchable and visible to travel sellers, or travellers, compared to other modes of transport.
Making rail a choice for the traveller
At present, many travellers do not consider train services as part of their journey, because it does not show up as an option in their online searches. It’s likely that international visitors are also not familiar with the rail options at their destination, or not aware that rail can be a favourable option.
The integration of rail in the Global Distribution System (GDS) is a crucial step towards increasing this visibility for travellers. By making rail travel routes available through local travel agents as well as online giants, travellers will have more choices available to them at all stages of trip planning. Not only that, travellers can then book and pay for different journey options in a single transaction.
For instance, Amadeus Air-Rail Display allows travel agents to easily compare in a single display rail and air journey times and check availability on popular air-rail routes. Travel sellers can leverage this platform to sell rail more efficiently, making the booking of rail travel much easier for both agents and travellers. In fact, one of the most common multi-modal travel options is booking your flight and your connecting airport to city rail ticket with it. Through integrated solutions such as Amadeus Airport Express, travel agencies can easily add an airport express train ticket to a traveller’s flight or hotel room at the moment of booking. Especially as Asia Pacific works towards a multi-modal travel future.
There are huge opportunities for rail companies to innovate and provide more personalised travel services, bringing a ‘door-to-door’ experience one step closer to reality. As we embark on the multi-modal journey, collaboration between key industry players is key to overcome the challenges and enable the traveller of tomorrow a seamless travel experience from their initial search right through to arrival at their destination.
Like what you are reading? Join Amadeus at Asia Pacific Rail 2017, taking place from 21-22 March at HKCEC, Hong Kong.
About Amadeus Rail
Amadeus Rail delivers passenger rail technology solutions that connect railways’ systems together and with the rest of the travel ecosystem. With RAILyourWAY, railways can modernise, change parts or their entire inventory, pricing or reservation systems, sell other rail operators from their own website and connect to major travel websites or traditional travel agencies both domestically and abroad. They will be showcasing their latest solutions, from Rail Display to Web Services and Air-Rail Display at the 19th Annual Asia Pacific Rail 2017 conference and exhibition. Visit them at booth D14 and check out how our technology can support your business. Don’t miss their lucky draw where you can win an iWatch.
About Asia Paciifc Rail 2017
Now in its 19th edition, Asia Pacific Rail is the largest gathering of senior rail leaders in Asia. With a 4 track premium conference agenda covering key issues across metro, mainline, freight, rolling stock, power, signalling & communications, finance & funding and more, 3 technical seminar theatres in the exhibition hall, over 80 exhibition stands and an Underground/Overground University, our 2017 edition will be our biggest ever. Book your ticket here.