DfT heralds rail data revolution

The Department for Transport is investing £5 million to start development of a “Rail Data Marketplace” (RDM) to provide the tools and frameworks to open up rail data through a new single-access platform.

Due to launch next year following technology development, it is claimed the RDM will ‘unleash opportunities’ for developers and technology companies to collaborate with the rail industry and integrate railway data into passenger-facing applications and develop new services.

Examples of the information available cited include seat availability, detail on disruptions and availability of facilities at stations such as lifts and escalators – all in one location. It’s claimed this will reduce the fragmentation of data across the rail industry.

There is the potential for the platform to support new real-time alert services, such as alerting passengers about how busy a service might be or where the most accessible part of a platform is.

The move follows an earlier decision by Transport for London to open up its data in a similar way. In 2017, a review found that more than 600 applications used TfL data and that they were used by 42% of Londoners. It was also estimated that the data generated annual economic benefits and savings of up to £130 million to passengers, London and TfL itself.