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Train and tech firms to improve travel in ‘joint rail data action plan’

Train operators and tech experts will work together to improve the UK's rail system as outlined in the joint rail data action plan announced today

Whether it’s inconvenient delays or out-of-order toilets, UK rail passengers are unfortunately familiar with frustrating train problems.

The government’s joint rail data action plan announced today seeks to end this, however, by having train companies publish more real-time information that will enable tech firms to develop intelligent travel apps.

Rail minister Jo Johnson wants to see the closer link between rail and tech firms create more seamless and hassle-free journeys, as well as better passenger information on services, delays, seats and on-board facilities like toilets and refreshments.

He said: “This will speed the development of travel apps that provide passengers with helpful information about their journeys.”

Chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, Paul Plummer, who co-announced the plans, said: “Technology gave rise to the railway, connecting Britain, and the rail industry wants to channel this spirit to help produce cutting-edge products and services that can be exported around the world.

“Digital technology in rail already means more timely information and less time spent waiting, helping to put customers in charge, and as part of the rail industry’s plan to change and improve we want to use technology to give customers more and more control.”

joint rail data action plan
Rail Minister Jo Johnson with brother and fellow MP Boris Johnson

Breaking down the joint rail data action plan

An industry-led taskforce will oversee the various obligations and deadlines set out in the plan to ensure the targets are met.

It states that data will be released over the coming months to provide more consistent and timely information about train services, delays and disruption.

It also details plans to have carriage-specific information to help the operators convey more accurate information concerning on-board facilities and help passengers determine the best place to board and alight from the train.

The processes by which the rail industry collects, stores and publishes information is set to be enhanced as well, in addition to improvements over discerning which data is commercially sensitive and for what purposes it could be used.

Together with the UK government, the rail industry will also explore new incentives to drive innovation and data sharing.