November 2022, Virtual
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
Drexler tells BBT about the progress made during the last year on Amadeus’ ambitious rail distribution project
How did Amadeus’ project to create a “GDS for rail” develop during 2013?Progress has been made with integrating and aggregating general content for four of Europe’s major railway companies: SNCF, Deutsche Bahn, Trenitalia and SJ in Sweden. This includes all of the brands owned by these companies – for example: the SNCF family also includes Eurostar and Thalys. If you look at DB, while it has only one brand, we are including all of its long-distance services as well as regional trains and some of the urban services. We are powering distribution to the travel agencies including both TMCs and OTAs (online travel agencies).
In what ways are you improving the distribution of train bookings through this project?There are really four ways that we are doing this: the first is agents booking rail-only which is integrated within the Amadeus selling platform, then there is API access which is used by OTAs, there is also our e-Travel Management system which is our self-booking tool used by corporate travellers, and finally there is ‘Fly by Rail’ on our GDS where rail content is integrated into the same display as flights, so you can compare air and train travel for the same journeys.
Where are you in terms of including the UK rail operators within this system?It will come – we are still discussing this so cannot give a firm date yet but it certainly will not take years. We have been in negotiations with ATOC in the UK – the technical solutions are going to come either via ATOC or via a third party, but we have not made a decision on this yet.
What are the next steps that you will be taking during 2014?We will keep on getting more and more railway content on to the system. We will be thinking about how we can get UK content on to the system as well as from other operators across Europe in countries such as Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands. We are in discussions with operators in all of these countries. We are building something completely new so it will take time. But we are already seeing a lot of interest from the corporate market – bookings through e-Travel Management have seen double-digit growth, although it is hard to tell whether this is at the expense of air travel or not.
Does Amadeus have any other plans for working with the rail industry?We are in discussions with a couple of rail operators with regards to IT outsourcing and reservations systems such as powering their inventory and schedules. We cannot disclose who they are at this point but hopefully we will be able to make some announcements during 2014. These are similar kinds of projects to what we already do with airlines in terms of distribution, reservations and departure control.
Amadeus is also involved in a major project with the European Commission – what is your role in this initiative?We are leading a consortium of companies looking for a solution on how to make it easier to do multi-modal journeys involving different types of transport. This is looking at how to make these journeys bookable and searchable, so you can build an itinerary and a journey. We have been putting together a report on this subject and, if the EU decides to continue to a phase two on this project, then we will look at how multi-modal travel can be brought into life on a practical level.