INNOVATOR OR IMITATOR?
Written by Frederic Kalinke
- Why are we still printing tickets on paper?
- Why can we not tell customers which trains are the most congested and what their choices are in real time?
- What is preventing customers from having a travel account that all train operators recognise and charge to?
- Why do we still need a train conductor to walk the length of the train asking to see your ticket?
- Why does the train not know who you are and provide for you on a personal level?
- There is no reason why all of this cannot be resolved with the technology that exists today.
Innovation requires leadership. Without it, we will only solve yesterday’s problems. Imitators take less risk because they start with an innovator’s product. SilverRail is an innovator, which at times can be a lonely place, especially in rail. We believe anything is possible if we put our minds to it. Rail started out through innovation but that was now, nearly 200 years ago…
The first public railway was proved to be financially viable with the Liverpool to Manchester route in 1830. The first passenger season tickets were issued in Canterbury, England in 1831. The world population reached 1 billion in 1830, having taken 50,000 years to get there. Then it reached 7 billion in 2011, taking only 12 years to increase by 1 billion. Congestion is clearly here to stay and it is innovation that will keep the railways usable and financially viable for customers.
The current pace of innovation is not meeting customer demand. As an industry we need to be more agile if we are to truly fulfil the potential that mass transit can bring. This means investing in larger, faster and more efficient trains, more routes and making the infrastructure as efficient as possible.
Innovation provides the best platform for alliance creation and joint venturing. Here at SilverRail we know that we can’t solve all of the problems by ourselves, which is why we are so keen on technical integration with other best-in-breed suppliers so that the customer can be given the right information either on demand, or proactively at the right time.
Knowledge is power and for the rail customer this is equally true. It is our job to simply make rail travel work and it is the customer’s right to enjoy their travel using everyday technology as it evolves. The rail customer is already engaging with and using smartphones and wearable devices to interact with a broad range of travel, local and navigation technologies. Why can they not do this with rail?
The expectation is there and we need to rise to the challenge. So here are a few questions that as an industry we need to address:
Check out our view of what a rail journey could be like if we in the industry worked together over the next few years: