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Case Study:

Rail Delivery Group Ticketing

Transforming legacy ticketing systems to deliver cloud-based digital services

Rail Delivery Group (RDG) is the overarching membership body that brings together all the UK’s passenger and freight rail companies, High Speed 2 and Network Rail into a single organisation. It acts as a voice of industry, lobbying Government and providing vital services to train companies and third parties. 

With a goal to make Britain’s railways better, it provides a range of services underpinning the delivery of a high-quality customer railway experience, including timetable service, the fares feed, reservations platform, ticketing fulfilment and revenue settlement.

With the rail industry moving away from traditional analogue and paper-based ticketing infrastructure to a more digital, customer-focused approach, RDG needed to undergo a digital transformation to ensure its technical solutions were ready to support this change.
 

Services

Cloud Modernisation

AWS

Application Modernisation

The Brief

In line with the objectives specified in the William Shapps Plan for Rail whitepaper published in 2021, RDG sought to digitalise customer ticketing to improve end-user experience and increase the attractiveness and ease of rail travel. RDG envisioned a railway experience whereby customers can access high quality, timely and personalised information throughout the entirety of their journey, with ticketing products that allow them to consume these services in a tailored manner. 

As well as meeting the needs of the public, RDG also wanted to offer services to its members that would allow them to reduce their costs while providing a highly reliable service that’s secure, scalable and resilient. 

To meet these objectives, RDG must offer the right kind of products and high-quality journey information to their end users, which is impossible without fast and reliable data. 

RDG’s current Transaction Management Service (TMS) has been functional and highly successful since it was implemented by Nasstar in 2014, but due to the age of the platform and the subsequent progression in technology, development work was costly and time-consuming. To meet the changing needs of the industry, passengers, and train operating companies, RDG needed a scalable and flexible platform that delivers changes quickly, efficiently and in a cost-effective manner.

With a partnership spanning more than a decade, RDG approached cloud services specialist Nasstar to take on the digital transformation of their TMS, to aid improvements to the customer journey with a key focus on innovative ticketing and tailored experiences to meet the organisation’s future business objectives.
 

The Benefits

The new TMS system will deliver several benefits to RDG, as well as the train operating companies and rail passengers, including:

  • Flexible infrastructure that is scalable as demand increases/decreases
  • Low initial cost
  • Increased automation including refunds and ‘delay repay compensation’
  • Implementation of new services and ticket types including pay-as-you-go tickets
  • Opportunity for additional revenue streams with a more flexible cloud environment

In line with the project objectives, one of the key benefits is the optimisation and customer service that train operators will be able to offer moving forwards. For example, with the new technology solution in place, if a customer is unfortunately delayed on a train service, they can receive compensation through an automated approach using the data received from digital ticketing. This eliminates the need for customers to fill out a form and submit it with their tickets, before the train operating company’s customer service team endures the lengthy process of manually checking the ticket, validating the train service received, calculating the compensation and writing a cheque or voucher for compensation. This automated processing enables RDG and the train operating companies to offer a seamless and reliable compensation method, which not only speeds up internal processes but improves the customer experience and encourages future rail travel.

The renewed TMS and cloud-based approach will also enable additional ticketing services which are focused on improving the customer experience, such as faster ticket purchase, the ability to fulfil tickets digitally, automated refunds and new ticket types such as pay-as-you-go which was previously only seen in London Tubes and buses.

With an agile and secure platform in place, RDG can now provide digital ticketing services, and improved, personalised customer services, leading the way to the transformation of the Great British Railway. 
 

The Solution

To ensure RDG has a future-proof, scalable and secure solution, Nasstar is implementing a solution that will transform the TMS platform.

Thus far, we have worked closely and collaboratively with RDG to understand their key underlying requirements at an operational, commercial and business level to ensure the solution is future-proof. In doing so, our three-phase approach to the project will transform the TMS architecture from an existing AWS footprint that utilises EC2 instances to a serverless AWS environment that improves RDG’s ability to provide transformation across the rail industry.

The TMS environment has been rearchitected to take advantage of AWS’ serverless components, delivering a much greater performance in terms of scalability, enhanced security by design and the ability for RDG to create and deliver new services much faster. The serverless compute will also use less energy than EC2 instances, addressing environmental and sustainability issues, helping RDG to become a greener business. Our teams have also made improvements to the TMS in terms of railcards which are used by millions of people across the country. We have specified an automated railcard validation service which is incorporated into the platform and linked to the customer’s smartcard. This means that once someone has bought a railcard and registered it onto their account, it will remain on their account, and they can use it without having to enter their railcard details every time they purchase a ticket. This benefits the customer in terms of convenience but also helps the industry to reduce railcard fraud and the subsequent costs this fraudulent activity incurs.

The development of this highly scalable solution will enable future developments of the platform over many years, giving RDG the ability to accommodate change in line with market trends and customer demand.
 

We work with Nasstar across a range of services at RDG and we see them as very much a partner in what we’re trying to achieve within the rail industry. The expertise that Nasstar has gained through working with the rail industry for a very long time, alongside their expertise in AWS deployment means that they’re a natural fit for us on this TMS project. It is incredibly important to have a trusted partner to work with on this digital transformation. With a much more reliable, scalable and secure platform, we will have the unique ability to deliver innovative and improved services to our train operating companies and travelling passengers, helping to make Britain’s railways better.

John Backway
Head of Central Back Office, Rail Delivery Group (RDG)