National Express to optimise rail revenue

National Express is taking on new revenue management software worth millions of pounds to maximise the revenue it gets from its two biggest rail franchise operations.

The transport operator has signed two multi-million pound contracts for the design, implementation, maintenance and support of two separate pricing and yield optimisation software packages for its East Anglia and East Coast rail franchises.

National Express East Coast is adopting the Price Sensitive Revenue Management (PSRM) system from JDA Software and National Express East Anglia has chosen Rail Revenue Optimiser (RRO) software, from the same vendor.

The PSRM system analyses levels of customer demand to determine ticket prices and provide accurate demand forecasts. The software provider said it works to manage peak times, where demand outstrips supply, alongside helping operators to fill trains at times when capacity would otherwise exceed demand. Eurostar was the first train operator to use the software.

Simon Pearson, National Express East Coast's head of revenue management, said: "The Thales-JDA Software solution allows us to fine-tune ticket pricing and supports our continuing commitment to get closer to our customers. It will allow us to make the most efficient use of capacity, while providing passengers with the best possible choice and value for money."

East Anglia's RRO system will be based on similar principles, recommending appropriate inventory controls alongside the optimal allocation of demand to capacity and allowing for dynamic pricing in reaction to market trends.

Both rail franchises are already working with supplier Thales, in partnership with the software provider, to deliver their customised RRO and PSRM systems as securely hosted, managed services for the duration of the franchise contracts.

The deals also include separate reference systems, so enhancements and fixes can be tested safely offline. And these reference systems will also provide disaster recovery and backup capacity, hosted alongside the main systems in two new high-security data centres owned and operated by Thales in Yorkshire.

The East Anglia system is scheduled for operational service before the end of this year, while the East Coast system is expected to go live in the second quarter of 2009.

The actual value of the deals was not disclosed.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.