I have to admit I’m a real fan of traveling by train to work and back. I’m a forenzer who enjoys those 45 minutes to prepare some work, enjoy the Metro newspaper, catch up on my social media streams, watch people and make up stories around them or simply write this blogpost. Two days ago I took a new 1 year subscription and I was wondering why it did cost me so much. The service is quite often ok but not tremendous. Every now and than, I prefer going by car and not by train because of tight scheduled meetings in several cities. And I take holidays… I also believe i get my tickets inspected only around 30% of my rides.
What if the railways were run as a public/private club?
For the public part of service, everybody could come and get a transport ticket (not a guaranteed seat!) and take the train immediately to the destination of their choice. The private part however is the subscription formula in which people pay a membership fee for using the services the railways offer (wifi, workspace, waiting rooms indoor, daily coffee …) In return the members of the Railways can reserve a guaranteed seat of the train of their likes and get the invoice of at the end of the month.
Although there are a lot of points to consider in this railway experience innovation, technology and infrastructure are the two main areas to invest in.
For instance; You can work with small screens in the seats or ceilings pointing out a seat is taken by mr(s) x or not at all. A small sensor in the seat notices whether a seat is taken and can be billed. The build-in mechanisme triggers a message to the member asking whether he has missed his train and would like to reserve a seat on the next one. Being a Railways member guarantees you your favorite spot at the bar while you can drink as much or as little as you like in benefitting from the extra services.
I would believe this is the vision Belgian Public Railways (@nmbs) and its new boss, Jo Cornu should aim for.
And I believe @kodel could help them with that!