A light and handy mobile device that changed the daily work of Irish Rail officers
About Irish Rail
Iarnróid Éireann, more commonly known as Irish Rail, is the national rail operator in Ireland. The railway company has been operating since the 1980s and runs daily journeys throughout Ireland. Irish Rail operates all local rail services such as InterCity, Commuter, DART, and freight services in Ireland. The company handles the Enterprise service between Dublin and Belfast.
In 2019, the total number of passengers reached 50 million, a first, and only the beginning for Irish Rail. Indeed, the company has seen an increase in demand across the entire network, and that rail capacity will increase in the coming years. Irish Rail also plans to expand the national rail network, according to Jim Meade, the company’s chief executive officer.
The arrival of many challenges
Every day, Revenue protection officers (RPOs) and Irish Rail’s back-office staff work in harmony to chase fraud and protect revenue. Each one has an important role to play, RPOs validating passengers’ tickets plus issuing Fixed Payment Notices (FPN), and back-office staff manually entering each personnel file number into the system.
However, Irish Rail faces the challenge of fraud. Indeed, the number of FPNs continues to increase day by day, making it difficult for RPOs to do this, as all FPNs, are issued by hand on paper. The increase in fines has created a lot more work for the back office who had to manually record them afterward. This problem has resulted in millions of Euros per year in revenue that is not earned or lost by the railway. The second challenge was to improve the validation process for all types of passenger train tickets, including, their local travel card, the NTA Leapcard.
The objectives were clear for Irish Rail, to optimize the efficiency of its officers to validate quickly and simply as many tickets as possible, and to digitize manually written paper fines to printed fines. This would allow the maximum amount of information to be captured in the most efficient way possible.
A collaboration that has allowed Irish Rail to surpass itself
To meet its various challenges, Irish Rail decided to call upon the expertise of Theta, a Software Service company specializing in software and application development, and Famoco, a French start-up developing remotely controllable Android B2B devices.
Both companies immediately got involved. Theta developed a software application to facilitate the management of all FPNs and Famoco, provided the hardware via an enterprise-friendly device, the FX205, to all RPOs.
Famoco is a French company developing professional Android devices that can be remotely controlled. The principle is simple, the user has total control over the settings and applications made available to him thanks to an MDM. It is for this purpose that its offer includes 3 elements: a device with no street value, a completely secure OS without any google services, and an administration platform. Today Famoco has more than 300k devices deployed around the world.
Irish Rail has therefore equipped its teams with Famoco devices, the FX205. The choice was made on this device in particular because it perfectly matched the needs of ticket validation in the public transport sector today. Indeed, the FX205 is an enterprise and user-friendly mobile device which supports many ticketing types such as printed barcode tickets, QR code tickets, virtual smart cards as well as plastic travel cards, thanks to its performant NFC in the back of each device.
Designed for field operations, the FX205 is light and handy but still robust and has a long-lasting battery, which allows the RPOs to do mass ticket validation and issue fines throughout the day without any interruption.
Finally, all RPOs have a Bluetooth printer to quickly and securely send and print FPN receipts. Then, all FPNs are synchronized with the Irish Rail backbone system provided by Dovetail, even if the tickets are issued in offline mode.
Immediate satisfying results
With a versatile and powerful device and a customized application developed by Theta, Irish Rail has managed to deal with all its different problems. Indeed, the FX205 along with the application developed by Theta, made it possible to validate in a few seconds and securely, all types of train tickets in large quantities, and the FPNs were now fully digitized.
The prowess of the FX205 has allowed the officers to gain in productivity and efficiency, plus, the workload of the back office people has decreased. Irish Rail’s employees had now a much better working environment.
Today more than 60 FX205 are deployed in the field by RPO and facilitate the 137K trips made each day by the company.