Cloud computing delivers tickets to UK rail passengers

News James Stirling Nov 26, 2012
Railway in the clouds
Railway in the clouds

New ticket sales architecture will allow for greater seasonal flexibility and scale to growing future demand

The UK’s rail ticketing system is moving to the cloud, it has been revealed, in the first step of the Rail Settlement Plan’s (RSP) Modernisation Programme.

RSP, the ticketing consortium of train operating companies in the UK, has contracted Ipswich-based IT consultancy Smart421 to build and manage a new Live Sales Management system.

The system will support the Ticket on Departure service, where passengers collect rail tickets previously purchased online from in-station self service ticket machines. The service currently handles ticket sales totalling £1.8bn per year and the new system will allow it to scale to 1bn tickets per year by 2018 without any additional investment in infrastructure.

Smart421 said that basing the new system in the cloud will also give train operating companies the ability to deal with large fluctuations in demand for tickets during peak periods.

The Live Sales Management system is to be built on the Amazon Web Services Cloud, using its EC2, S3 and ERM platforms. It will also integrate open source technologies from ForgeRock, Inforbright, Jaspersoft and RedHat.

Work on the development phase of the project will begin in December 2012 and will continue for a period of 13 months, followed by a five-year contract to provide a continuous support service.

Neil Miles, Managing Director at Smart421, said: “Rail ticketing demand goes through seasonal and daily peaks and troughs, which makes it a great use case for cloud computing.”

“By choosing AWS technologies, Smart421 is giving RSP the ability to scale up their infrastructure during peak seasons and scale back during the off-peak times. This means that RSP can save money and time on managing technology infrastructure and can better serve the rail customers of the UK. I am extremely pleased to bring our full expertise to RSP on this important IT system,” Miles added.