A rail revolution

With roots reaching back as far as 1951, Cubic Transportation Systems has a proud heritage that recognises that efficient mobility remains a key driver for economic growth

Cubic has maintained a presence within the UK rail industry that extends back over more than four decades. During this time the company has established a proven track record as a trusted integrator of payment and information technology and services for intelligent travel solutions. Indeed, today many of the world’s overground rail systems use Cubic technology, while the company’s Cubic Issue 129 bsystems can be found on underground rail networks across four continents. The business was last profiled by Railway Strategies during March 2015, when the company’s Managing Director for Europe, John Hill discussed how the service offering presented by Cubic has continued to change to meet the evolving needs of the digital age.

Over the past five to six years the rail industry has seen growing demand for intelligent revenue collection with technologies like contactless payment becoming increasingly integrated into the world’s rail networks. Cubic represents a market-leading integrator for these technology intensive services and as clients increasingly adopt IT-based revenue collection systems they require a full service solution including support. As a result more of the company’s products are evolving into back office systems, which are designed to handle the vast amounts of data generated by modern technologies. During the past 12 months, Cubic has enjoyed a highly successful year and in doing so has continued to demonstrate its place as an industry leader with the introduction of new technology solutions.

“This is a very exciting time for the transport sector in general and the rail industry in particular. We’re seeing record investment in new infrastructure, including Crossrail and HS2 and that bold optimism is reflected here at Cubic. It continues to be a time of change for Cubic too, as we grow our business across the whole mobility sector – including traffic management, tolling, multi-modal transport links and data analysis. During December last year we officially opened our worldwide Innovation Centre in Farringdon, London, while in Germany we are at an early but very promising stage of trialling a Bluetooth enabled ‘Check In – Be Out’ mobile solution. This was initially on buses and now with the upcoming trial in Duisburg will be included on light rail as well. We’re also pushing ahead with our NextAgent virtual ticket office and information point in both Germany and the UK. Again in London, we are developing a new ticket vending machine for CrossRail in conjunction with Transport for London (TfL), which will incorporate sleek modern design and a wide range of new functionality for both able bodied and disabled users. These are all part of our continual drive to make using public transport as simple and attractive as possible,” reveals Executive Vice President and Managing Director for Europe, Roger Crow.

“Another major highlight must be the enormous success of contactless payment across the network in London – well over 390 million journeys have now been made using contactless payment cards since it launched, and it has won 13 industry awards, as readers will have seen. The extension of contactless to Gatwick in January has also meant that the convenience of the system is now available to many people outside London as well and we are seeing interest for this technology from transport operators and transport agencies around the world,” he adds. “In April this year Transport for New South Wales announced plans for a pilot of Contactless in Sydney in 2017.”

In a demanding year for the company Cubic has also continued in its work leading a team comprising Sqills, CRM Culture and Rail Solutions to begin delivery of Irish Rail’s new fully integrated ticketing management and distribution system, which began in late 2014. “This chimes with Irish Rail’s ‘Customer First’ programme and I am pleased to say that is progressing well,” Roger elaborates. “Away from the rail sector, we have also had significant US contract awards such as the New Hampshire DOT road tolling contract – a major re-entry success for Cubic back into road tolling. It’s been a busy year!”

The market appears to be extremely active for Cubic at present, with clients increasingly looking for IT solutions that link various modes of transport and types of payment. Therefore, market Cubic Issue 129 cplayers are looking for partners that can guarantee delivery, future proof investments and who can think differently in response to the rapid development of technology and social media platforms. “This is a great time for innovative thinkers,” Roger exclaims. “I think the market is buoyant at present, because everyone is looking for more value from their assets and that is driving continuous advances in technology performance. Customers are looking to expand and future proof their systems, and when related to payment, are looking to maximise revenue certainty at the same time as improving operational efficiency.

“We are seeing a number of trends around account based ticketing and in joining up multiple modes of transport. But it is equally clear that this has a long way to go. It’s still always surprising how many customers with similar needs look for different solutions. Coming back to account based solutions, we have seen this rapidly evolve from account based ticketing to account based solutions. Why would customers limit their solution to one form of transport, or to one payment need? Through ideas presented in our NextCity vision, we are helping customers to look beyond the near term, to implement infrastructure and solutions that are expandable across all modes of transport and potentially extending into retail and commercialisation opportunities. Take London, for example. London is looking to join up its infrastructure, ITS and transport modes through a range of projects. Cubic touches so many of these that we see some very exciting opportunities to help them realise their vision,” he continues.

“In the same way, through Transport for the North and the Northern Powerhouse in the UK we are seeing major drivers from several key cities, including Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Liverpool. Along with the devolution agenda this represents a major opportunity for the industry – provided we can efficiently join up our thinking and avoid over-complicated solutions. This is going to be hugely interesting and challenging over the coming years, but through our work with Manchester, London and the train operating companies we hope to play a significant role in this.”

It is difficult to overstate the level of activity that Cubic is enjoying at present, as the continued integration of new technology in transport networks around the world increasingly opens the way for further opportunity. As the market continues to evolve, Cubic will remain on hand with new and innovative solutions. “I believe we have only just seen the start of the revolution as far as contactless payment on public transport is concerned. This will be driven by the compelling customer proposition, the cost benefits to the operator, the rich seam of data which can be made anonymous and which can bring previously unimagined insight for operators and authorities, enabling them to tailor their services and offered increasingly personalised customer experience,” Roger concludes. “Our core business remains as buoyant as ever, and we will continue to provide revenue collection solutions and services to the rail industry and beyond.”