Members' News

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ERL x BusOnlineTicket Banner without Price 002

MALAYSIA – Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL) has partnered with BusOnlineTicket.com (BOT), an online booking portal for bus tickets and other services such as bus and hotel packages, train tickets, ferry tickets, tour packages, airport transfers and hotel promotions. This partnership is aligned with ERL’s mission to provide a seamless service experience that is fast, reliable, comfortable and convenient for travellers. For a limited time only, BOT customers can enjoy a special launch offer.

Speaking on the partnership, Noormah Mohd Noor, Chief Executive Officer of ERL said, “We are proud and excited to be partnering with BOT. This partnership will expand our customer base and reach out to BOT’s customers. Travellers will be able to plan their journey easily and purchase KLIA Ekspres tickets through BOT’s sales channel.”

Sales Director of BOT, Mr. Chong Kok Chuin also added, “This partnership will surely increase the convenience for travellers, especially tourists visiting the country. We can help ERL reach out to key markets outside Malaysia, such as China and Singapore, while offering our customers a quality airport transfer product. Our booking system is very user-friendly and informative. We are delighted to be partnering with ERL and offer the ease of a one-stop online booking portal service to our mutual customers.”

Starting from 19th September 2018 to 31st October 2018, customers will be able to purchase KLIA Ekspres tickets on www.busonlineticket.com and enjoy a special fare of RM48 for a Single Adult Ticket (normal fare RM55).

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AirRailMelbourne CustomerJourney

AUSTRALIA: An Australian pension fund consortium has announced a detailed plan for Melbourne’s long-awaited airport rail link, promising the fastest travel times, a premium around-the-clock service and enhanced access for regional Victorians.

AirRail Melbourne, comprising IFM Investors, Melbourne Airport, Metro Trains Australia and Southern Cross Station, have unveiled its blueprint for the development of the rail link with the Victorian and Australian Governments.
Under the $15 billion plan, AirRail Melbourne is proposing to match the $5 billion funding announced by both the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments to build a world-class link that unlocks additional rail capacity and creates thousands of new jobs.
 
"As Melbourne marches toward becoming Australia’s largest city our infrastructure needs to keep pace. Key to this is the development of the airport and all its elements to cope with a near doubling of passengers over the next 20 years. As we expand our runways and terminal facilities we also need world-class linkages between the airport and the city. Our vision is for a seamless passenger experience at the airport, properly integrated between the train carriage and the terminal, Melbourne Airport chief executive officer Lyell Strambi said.”

The airport rail link would offer 20 minute travel time to the city, with trains running 24/7 with 10 minute intervals during peak periods. One way ticket is estimated to cost less than $20 in today's prices.

If the plan is approved, the construction could start in late 2020.

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London Luton Airport Vision

UK: The Department for Transport issued the Invitation to Tender for the East Midlands rail franchise, connecting East Midlands and London Luton Airports.

The franchise set outs goals to deliver brand new fleet of trains, more seats for passengers, reduced peak journey times between Nottingham, Sheffield and London and a dedicated, high quality, express service between Corby and London. Other improvements include better compensation for delays, smart ticketing, high quality wi-fi connection, more frequent and increased capacity on local services and services that start earlier and finish later.

The Invitation to Tender specifically mention that bidders for the franchise should include initiatives that will improve rail's modal share for surface access to and from East Midlands Airport and London Luton Airport, in particular by operating appropriate earlier and later services to and from those airports.

London Luton Airport (LLA) has been calling for more fast trains to stop at the airport under the new franchise and is pleased that the ITT included those specification.
 
LLA currently has the lowest modal share of passengers using rail transport of any London airport and increasing the number of trains serving the airport will help address this, without the need for additional capital expenditure. It will also help LLA reach its full capacity, easing the capacity crisis in the South East.

Nick Barton, CEO of London Luton Airport, said: “It’s great to see the DfT has recognised the importance of improving rail’s modal share to London Luton and East Midlands airports. Improving air rail links is essential to overcoming the capacity crisis. LLA currently has the lowest modal share of any London airport, which is a limiting factor on our ability to meet the ever growing demand for air travel in the South East.
 
“The most efficient and cost-effective way of increasing modal share is to increase the frequency of trains which stop at Luton Airport Parkway to four per hour. This can be achieved at no additional cost, yet the benefits which it will bring to London and the UK are huge. This new franchise is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to improve rail services for passengers and address the UK’s aviation capacity crunch. I urge all the bidders to make the most of it.”

 

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RUSSIA: Aeroexpress launched an Artificial Intelligence (AI) bot named Andrey to provide primary support online for customers using frequently asked questions service.

The bot has been developed by the Russian company Just AI, a part of the i-Free Group, which specialises in artificial intelligence technologies.

Without any assistance from an operator, Andrey provides comprehensive answers to frequently asked questions, thereby taking care of 72% of inquiries. The bot advises passengers about how to buy train tickets in order to travel to the airport, the time of the nearest train service, and the conditions of carriage. It can explain where the required terminal is situated and how long a ride with Aeroexpress will take.

Andrey understands the natural speech rather than offers to select menu items. For example, if asked “How long does it take for a ticket to be delivered to the email?” the bot will figure out that an e-ticket is meant and will reply that it is usually sent within a few seconds. It will also understand if a customer is interested in some special fares or baggage transportation conditions. All of this is possible thanks to artificial intelligence. Just AI in close cooperation with Aeroexpress specialists working with inquiries, continues improving it by teaching the bot questions based on information generally contained in enquiries. Even now, according to users’ feedback and estimates, the answers provided by the virtual consultant are complete and useful over 60% of the time.

The online consultant was launched in November 2017, making it possible to significantly decrease the call centre load and increase the speed of serving Aeroexpress passengers. Hotline costs have been reduced by 17%. Since being put into operation, Andrey has already handled 21,000 inquiries, and this number keeps growing month by month.

In March, approximately 9,000 website users directed their questions to the bot, which is double the amount compared to the first month of service.

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Brussels Airport Autonomous Shuttle

BELGIUM: The board of directors of De Lijn and the management committee of Brussels Airport Company have given the go-ahead for a pilot project with a self-driving electric bus on the airport. The vehicle that is being developed for this, will be one of the first to drive in Belgium in mixed traffic. 

After the summer of 2019, the constructor 2GetThere will begin tests without passengers in Utrecht. The shuttle bus will arrive at Brussels Airport in the beginning of 2020 for further tests.

Brussels Airport Company and De Lijn entered into a partnership of intent for deploying self-driving shuttles at the airport in 2015. After further study and the choice of the constructor, both companies gave full support to the pilot project for testing an autonomous shuttle on the airport grounds.

“As intermodal hub where various means of transport connect seamlessly with each other, Brussels Airport is constantly studying new possibilities for expanding this hub in a sustainable way. This technologically innovative project to have a self-driving electric bus operating a fixed route, also fits in with our environmental commitment to keep the impact on our surroundings as low as possible”, says Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company.

“Flanders is taking on the role of pioneer”, says Flemish Minister for Mobility Ben Weyts. “In other countries driverless vehicles are already operational, but that is often in a separate lane with a steward on board. Here, the aim is to have the self-driving shuttle drive autonomously on the public roads. This is cutting-edge technology that really appeals to the imagination. We are making an investment in the future, in greater efficiency and in a more attractive range of public transport.”

The Dutch constructor 2GetThere will start the project in the coming weeks. The contract is divided into two parts. The first part covers the development and thorough testing of the technology until the middle of 2020. In autumn 2019, the constructor will be holding the first vehicle tests at his own site in Utrecht. If everything works out well, the first self-driving bus will arrive at Brussels Airport in the beginning of 2020 for further test drives at the airport. The test route for this development stage is in the Brucargo business zone.

The first stage with tests and development of the self-driving bus will take two years. In this period, De Lijn and Brussels Airport Company can perform all necessary safety tests in various weather conditions and traffic situations. During the test period, no passengers, visitors or staff will be on board.

If the first stage is completed with a positive assessment, De Lijn and Brussels Airport Company will be able to decide to deploy the self-driving shuttle from 2021 onwards on the airport grounds for the transport of passengers, visitors and staff on the route between the terminal and Brucargo.

Brussels Airport Company and De Lijn are sharing the project costs. De Lijn is paying the costs of the follow-up project for people who travel by public transport (De Lijn, MIVB, NMBS) to the airport. The airport operator will foot the costs for the transport of persons who come to the airport by other means of transport (staff, visitors or passengers).