Travelling from country to country across Europe can be a frustrating experience for today’s traveller. With systems, rules and procedures varying from one country to another, the process of planning, booking and setting off on a journey that combines different modes of transport – such as air, rail and urban transport – is a fragmented process.
While travel sites featuring multimodal journey planners (to search for and plan trips combining different transport modes) do exist, they can currently do little more than provide the would-be traveller with a limited set of travel options before redirecting them to other websites to book and pay for the separate stages of their trip. The traveller will invariably find themselves navigating their way around a complex web of different travel retail sites, comparing departure and arrival times for different legs of their journey in order to establish a theoretically feasible connection, before committing to purchase often non-refundable tickets for the separate journey legs.
They’ll then embark on their journey armed with an abundance of tickets for the different transport modes and stages of their trip. And once they’re on their way, even the best laid travel plans can be thrown into disarray in the event of a cancellation or delay and resulting missed connection.
With all this to contend with, it’s no surprise that the majority of multimodal journeys are not purchased in advance. The first and last stages are frequently pieced together on the spot, leaving the traveller to negotiate a host of potentially difficult scenarios. We can all picture the scene of the weary traveller, fresh off the plane in an unfamiliar city, struggling to figure out how the metro system’s ticket machines work, while holding up a queue of impatient local commuters behind them.
The difficulties associated with multiple travel services, options and sources of information are clearly challenging for the traveller. But imagine a world where travel across the continent were easier; where European residents and visitors could enjoy a seamless door-to-door experience when travelling from country to country.
That’s the vision of the European Commission which has recently appointed an Amadeus-led consortium – All Ways Travelling – to develop a model for a European multimodal passenger information and booking system that could streamline the process of travelling across various modes of transport and make the whole experience easier for the traveller.
The All Ways Travelling consortium – which also includes BeNe Rail, IATA, Thales, UNIFE and Zeppelin University – will explore how services and information might be combined to overcome the obstacles highlighted above. It will work to support the European Commission’s ‘Roadmap to a Single European Union’ which aims to increase mobility across Europe, drive growth and associated employment within the transport sector, and reduce carbon emissions.
The work of the All Ways Travelling consortium will be carried out in two phases, the first of which is an in-depth study of multimodality which is currently being conducted by Zeppelin University and is due for completion before the end of 2013. Once the results of the study are validated by the EC, the second phase of the project will involve trialling a series of Proofs of Concept in terms of business models, operations and specific technologies that have been identified as critical for market delivery.
The companies within the consortium represent a balanced partnership between transport operators, authorities and system integrators who together bring extensive knowledge and expertise to address the different aspects of the project. The consortium has also created an advisory board consisting of 10 representatives of the major players in the industry to ensure that the approach to multimodal travel is truly beneficial for the travel industry as a whole.