Revenue Management System for East Coast Main Line Company

Context

East Coast Main Line (ECML) is a wholly owned subsidiary of state owned Directly Operated Railways Ltd.

With 136 weekday services and 90 weekend services operating for over 18 million passengers, ECML provides train services between London Kings Cross, the East Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East of England and Scotland.

East Coast had revenue management experience, as under a previous franchise, JDA’s Rail Revenue Optimisation (RRO) product had been deployed.
Consequently, they were very advanced in understanding revenue management, their reservations environment and the capabilities of the existing system.

East Coast wanted to take into account the price elasticity inherent in the behaviour of their customers, the travelling public.

Hence it was decided to move from a RRO to a price sensitive revenue management system.
Thales was awarded the seven –year service contract because:

  • Thales’ proven long-term systems integration experience in the rail industry
  • Thales could provide a solution that could be successfully integrated within the National Rail systems in the UK and conform to UK train ticket pricing regulation and rules


The Solution

Thales was responsible for the complete infrastructure integration of the new solution as well as data analysis, cleansing, validation and project management of the system delivery.

JDA Software, a leading global provider of revenue management solutions, provides the Revenue Management solution, known as Revenue Price Management (RPM). The RPM produces accurate daily price-sensitive demand forecasts in an origin and destination environment that will optimise price plans, seat availability and capture the greatest possible revenue on each train. This builds on the Rail Revenue Optimiser (RRO) which is a demand and revenue management decision support solution that has been successfully developed and used by airlines and tour operators over a number of years.

The system went live after an initial deployment period of 17 months. This included an initial ten month design consultancy and three months parallel running of the RRO and RPM systems.

    Thales also ensures that the system interfaces with the key UK National Rail operational and financial systems including:

    • The National Reservation System (NRS): inventory and daily bookings.
    • Lennon: average fare and journey information
    • Avantix: passenger counts

    Thales hosts the Railway Revenue Management System in their Tier III Data Centre in Doncaster.

    This service supplies vital customer demand information, and also provides the tools for the critical analysis required to optimise seat availability and accurate fare allocation.

    Other Features included:

    • A capacity for 136 reservable services per day (rising to 166) and long term projections for 20 million reservations
    • Architecture and services include use of a Sun Platform and Oracle Database


    Benefits

     Key benefits are: 

    •  Commendation at 2009 HSBC Rail Business Awards ‘Information technology of The Year’ category 
    • The solution has demonstrated a significant improvement in demand forecast accuracy levels, indicating that the system is on track to deliver the long- term revenue improvement target, and fast payback against investment cost
    • Production of accurate daily price-sensitive demand forecasts in an origin and destination environment that optimises price plans, seat availability and capture the greatest possible revenue on each train
    • The solution assists train scheduling, while a better understanding of what influences load factors allows an extension to the ‘peak period’ pricing, leading to reduction in overcrowding and smoothing of capacity utilisation
    • A closer linkage among operator’s scheduling, on-board staffing and catering services
    • Easier access of quota control
    • A better visibility and reporting of current and historical data
    • The solution can handle a significant level of ‘walk up’ and buy purchases just before travel
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