Train companies to release data to help tech firms build passenger apps

Written by Sam Trendall on 9 August 2018 in News
News

Government and industry body announce plans to increase the role of digital and data across the UK’s rail network

Credit: PA

The government has announced plans to open up data from train companies to better enable the development of apps for passengers.

Working with industry body the Rail Delivery Group, the government intends to foster closer ties between the technology industry and rail companies by encouraging the latter to provide the former with more and better data. This information – which should ultimately be provided in real time, the government said – will include data on service performance and delays, as well as details of train facilities, such as number of carriages, toilets, and refreshments. 

Such data-sharing will enable rail companies to plan more successfully and to pre-emptively address problems before they arise, the government believes. What is more, developers will be able to use this data to create apps that provide up-to-the-minute information that allows passengers to better plan their journeys.


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Transport minister Jo Johnson added: “This will speed the development of travel apps that provide passengers with helpful information about their journeys.”

Train companies have already released some data, and much more will follow over the coming months, the government said. The wider rail industry will also explore how best it can remove any obstacles to data-sharing. This might involve promoting standardisation of its practices for collecting and storing data, for example, or working to clarify how and where data can be used, and to what extent this will be hampered by commercial sensitivities.

Chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group Paul Plummer said: “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.”

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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