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Innovating in concert with the basics

The appetite for innovation in the rail industry is stronger than ever in a bid to truly transform the way it operates and moves people. The search for the latest innovation to solve industry problems is in full swing, but are we reducing focus or even disregarding the basics in the process? What do we mean by the basics? I mean the core functions of the railway that passengers rely on for effortless travel. Sometimes we try too hard to innovate. Innovation is defined as the implementation of something new that solves a problem. That’s it. Innovation doesn’t have to be costly and disruptive. It is simply a carefully selected solution that truly solves a specific problem(s), executed excellently – and it’s usually right in front of you.

Rightly or wrongly, the rail industry has been criticised over the years for not keeping up with other transport industries in terms of innovation. In recent years this has promoted the need for Operators to be perceived as being innovative for customers, maybe that’s purchasing AI way-finding apps for busy stations or replacing ticket barriers with sensors; embracing an innovative attitude and products such as these are great additions for the industry and passengers, but as long as their basic wants such as real-time end-to-end journey information that’s consistent and accurate across CIS, PIS and PA systems aren’t being met, neither will passenger satisfaction goals be. The truth is, passengers don’t really care about how innovative your products are, all they want is a solution to a problem. The most reported ask being the need to improve passenger information, where satisfaction levels regarding the way passengers are informed during disruption drops to 38% (Transport Focus, 2023).

Often, the reason for investing in innovative technologies is to replace a system to make it faster or better for operators and passengers, the issue here is that often these systems are only faster and better for a limited amount of time and soon, Operators are in the same position looking for a new replacement to keep up with passenger expectations, which is costly, disruptive, and ultimately unsustainable. KeTech believe innovation should not only be faster or better, but different. Different is what will re-shape the rail industry. KeTech offers different. KeTech offers real-time information systems on station, on train and in-cab; systems that combine data, technology and years of integration and industry knowledge to create systems that unite existing systems, data, and users. KeTech weave intelligence into the core of its systems, with the ability to grow with passenger expectations, hardware upgrades, operator requirements and new technology to create systems with limitless transformation depending on what you need at the time. At KeTech, we offer hardware solutions, but the magic is in our software. We intertwine intelligence with older legacy systems transforming them into smart systems. We can connect every data feed you have available from CCTV to Door sensors to Passenger Information Systems and create a singular, centralised database making the route to innovation a less disruptive, more sustainable, cost effective, futureproof one.

A connected, centralised, intelligent railway is described as ‘the future’, but at KeTech it’s a reality. Innovation can be wonderful if applied in concert with the basics that steer the railways success. Realising this challenge can have a tremendously positive impact toward adding an innovative spirit into the industry, improving the service offerings, and most importantly, enhancing the overall experience of what keeps passengers coming back. Don’t rule out something that seems too easy or miss an opportunity right in front of you while you search for the next big thing. After all, innovation is ultimately about giving your customers what they need.


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