Wednesday, August 20, 2014

RoRo Freight and Passenger Ferries Move with the Times and Award New Contract

Technology Update for Booking and Payments Systems
Shipping News Feature

UK – As time moves on and becomes ever more precious we have witnessed a host of new ways to ensure people can reserve, and pay for, services more quickly than before. Number plate recognition technology, RFID readers, all the new technology is aimed at producing faster results, many of which, road and tunnel tolls and Eurovignettes, have a direct effect on the freight and logistics sector. Now award-winning ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), which operates vital northern island RoRo services has moved to stay abreast of the trend by issuing a contract to Worldline, the European leader and a global player in the payments and transactional services industry.

The initial three-year contract will see Worldline, a specialist in online transactions, team up with Hogia, the largest provider of IT systems for ferry and sea freight operators for the European transport market, to deliver a modern, integrated ticketing system to support lifeline ferry services on the west coast of Scotland. Martin Dorchester, Managing Director of CalMac, observed:

"We have received a raft of awards in recent years in recognition of our focus on customer care but we know we can always do more to improve the customer experience and that is why we are currently undertaking a major programme of improvements to modernise our systems to help us be the best we can be. The award of this contract is an important milestone in that journey as we recognise that our ticketing and online booking systems are starting to show their age and no longer meet the expectations of customers for whom e-ticketing and the use of mobile technology is becoming the norm.

"The two companies selected to work with us have unrivalled experience in this field providing between them similar services for a host of rail and ferry operators both in the UK and overseas and we are sure all of our customers will find the new systems easy to use and greatly enhance their experience of travelling with us."

The new contract is being awarded by CalMac’s parent company David MacBrayne Ltd. in order that the technology is available for services provided by CalMac Ferries Ltd and Argyll Ferries Ltd services and other ferry services it may operate in the future, and with eyes of the country firmly facing north as the independence referendum looms, political comment came from Scottish Government Transport Minister, Keith Brown MSP, who said:

"The award of this contract is excellent news, as it brings CalMac another step closer to delivering a state-of-the-art ticketing and booking system that will provide real benefits to ferry passengers. The system will make it quicker and easier for travellers to make bookings and reservations, and will allow smart ticketing technology to be rolled out in the future. I want ferry travel in Scotland to remain an attractive option, and this new system will help enhance the customer experience on board CalMac services."

Worldline is an Atos company which currently provides similar services to rail companies across Scotland, England and Europe as well as operating ticket website redspottedhanky. Hogia provides ferry reservation and ticketing systems to ferry companies across the world including, Red Funnel in the UK, Destination Gotland in Sweden and Wagenborg Passenger Services in the Netherlands. Lisa Coleman, CEO Worldline, commented:

"Working with our partner Hogia, we have extensive experience in providing ticketing and reservations as well as back office services which support transport companies across the world. We are committed to both David MacBrayne and CalMac’s vision and passion for supporting rural communities, tourism industry and their own business transformation. Atos has invested heavily in people in Scotland and its highly experienced and motivated team of more than 1500 work in locations across Scotland."

Atos Senior Vice President in Scotland, Gavin Thomson, said the company was delighted to have been awarded the opportunity to support one of Scotland’s iconic businesses:

"With the skills and breadth of experience we have across the company, we are ready to support David MacBrayne’s current and future ambitions through this contract."

Photo: The MV Isle of Lewis ably demonstrating that CalMac are privileged to serve on some of the world’s most picturesque routes.