UK rail operators to move ticketing system to the cloud

Rail Settlement Plan (RSP), which operates the ticketing system of the British railway network, has awarded a five-year contract to Ipswitch-based IT consultancy Smart421 to design, build and manage a new Live Sales Management system that will be hosted on Amazon Web Services.

The new system will provide the rail industry with a “flexible, high availability cloud-based solution” to support ‘Ticket on Departure’ – the collection of rail tickets from self-service ticket machines that passengers pre-purchase on the internet, Smart421 said.

Currently, the ‘Ticket on Departure’ service handles ticket sales totalling £1.8 billion per annum. Using AWS, Smart421 said the system will be able to scale to process a billion tickets annually by 2018 without the need for capital investment in additional computer hardware.

This will be achieved through the use of automated, on-demand infrastructure, enabling RSP to give train operating companies the ability to support large fluctuations during peak periods of demand, it said.

In addition, Smart421 says the system will be easily upgraded to support future generations of ticketing technology intended to enable cost reductions and will also support a foundation for other delivery channels, such as mobile and smartcards.

A range of technologies in the AWS cloud will be included in the new system. They are: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Elastic Map Reduce (EMR).

Smart421 said the system will be built across multiple data centres in Europe to ensure high security and availability. Work on the development phase starts in December 2012 for 13 months and will be followed by the IT consultancy providing a 24-hour support service for five years.

“This Live Sales Management project will deliver high quality service at reasonable cost which is good news for all industry stakeholders,” said Steve Howes, Managing Director for RSP.

“We realise that this project will be watched very carefully because of its importance to RSP and the train operating companies we serve. Smart421 has demonstrated its capabilities and credentials to our total satisfaction and their tender represents excellent value for money,” he said.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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