DfT kickstarts William-Shapps Plan with £5 million investment


  • DfT has kickstarted the William-Shapps Plan with £5m government funding
  • The rail data will be opened up for developers via a new single-access platform
  • The digital platform will enable the support of real-time alerts to passengers

The Department for Transport has kickstarted the William-Shapps Plan for British Rail with the multi-million pound investment by the government of the United Kingdom. The government has allocated a sum totalling GBP5 million in order to create a data marketplace for railways that can help in opening up the industry data.

This will allow the developers and tech corporations to create innovative services and applications that can be used by masses to remain informed about the latest guidelines and modifications in the railways. This will thoroughly support the commitments in the Williams-Shapps Plan, effectively developing the Rail Data Marketplace (RDM).

The rail data will be opened up for the developers through a new single-access platform following the collaboration between the rail industry and the government, facilitating the tools and framework for the programme.

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The technology enterprises will be able to integrate the rail data into passenger-centric mobile applications, collaborating with the rail industry, and new services for passengers.

In a first, the minuscule details from the availability of facilities such as escalators and lifts, details on rail disruptions to the availability of seats will be converged into a single application. Moreover, the digital platform will enable the support of real-time alerts including real-time notifications to the passengers updating them about particular services on a line.

People will also be able to check for the most accessible point of a platform through the applications, ultimately alleviating the pain of getting the information about the travel.

With an all-round support from the application, the rail industry would be better equipped with necessary information for passengers on various aspects of travel including accessibility, punctuality and crowding. Having real-time data about various services and additional guidelines will make it easier for the users as well as the railway administration to access the real-time information about the railways.

This will enable the railway authorities to dispatch the crucial information through a single platform across the nation, improving the sharing of data across the operational bodies and other public places. The new technology and innovative applications will allow the companies and developers to raise the issues with regard to the data source.

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The opening up of data by the transport departments has substantially helped the passengers, helping them to access the information through a single platform. In the last five years, the Transport for London (TfL) opened up the data in a largely similar manner.

A review of TfL’s data showed that more than 600 applications were using the data shared by the administrative body that is being utilised by as many as 42% of the people residing in London. Subsequent to the opening up of the data, London and TfL were able to generate annual economic benefits and savings to the tune of up to GBP130 million for travellers across the City of London and other jurisdictions.