The New Weapon Most Rail Operators Aren’t Using (but Should)

Evolution has been a cornerstone of the Passenger Rail industry dating back to the 1800s when the first horse-drawn wagonways – designed to transport industrial goods – were replaced by the more efficient and powerful steam locomotives. And steam locomotives were then replaced by diesel, electric, bullet and Maglev trains.

LNER-Azuma2Today, Passenger Rail operators continue this evolution by improving their fleet to attract customers. Two great examples are the UK’s LNER Azuma fleet in 2019 and the US’s Amtrak Alstom in 2021.

But while fleets are evolving to draw customers, one of the most powerful and effective ways to get passengers in those seats has not: Revenue Management.

The truth is that most pricing and inventory systems for Passenger Rail are based on dated technology designed for air travel in the 1990s. Even the airline industry isn’t using this technology any longer. They significantly upgraded their pricing and inventory systems and approach in the years since.

A modern Revenue Management system is the weapon that most rail operators aren’t using, but should, to make big boosts to customers and revenue.

Does your system need an upgrade? Find out by asking yourself a few simple questions:

Question Legacy System Answer
How confident am I in the demand forecast that I am using? “Not that confident, but I don’t rely on a demand forecast anyway.”
When was the last time price sensitivities were updated for my markets? “Probably a few years ago, but I’m not really sure.”
How often do I make overrides in the system? “I make overrides to the system constantly. It just doesn’t know how to handle a lot of situations.”
Does the system guide me to high-priority decisions or recommendations that require my expertise?

“I know my markets pretty well, so I just use my own Excel spreadsheets to identify performance issues and manage my process.”

If any of these answers sound familiar, then odds are your Revenue Management solution is outdated.

Why settle for a Revenue Management system that’s stuck in the air in the 90s? If you’re spending a ton of time on manual analysis in Excel and cobbling together external data sources just to get a clear picture of what you should action, then you deserve an upgrade. After all, if horse-drawn trains are a thing of the past, so should Passenger Rail’s Pan Am-era pricing and inventory technology.

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