How to make Delay Repay for Rail much easier with an Open Transport API

For those who are not familiar with the term “Delay Repay”, it is an existing scheme across UK rail operators to provide financial compensation when there is a delay to a customer’s journey.  (You can also get a refund if your train journey is cancelled)

But, although Delay Repay is a national scheme, some train operating companies have different scenarios when Delay Repay is triggered (some after a 15 minute delay, others after 30 minutes). Plus there are also different conditions & ways for claiming a fare back too.

In short, it is rather a complex customer process (sometimes not made that obvious by every train operator) that can use some rather clever technology behind the scenes to match claims to delays. This technology includes: Optical Character Recognition (OCR) of a train ticket image uploaded to a website and ‘fuzzy’ matching of any delay times with historic DARWIN train running information.

The need to comply with the Delay Repay scheme means that Train Operators either have to develop and provide this service themselves, or partner with a compensation scheme service provider (CSSP). In the latter case, the rail operator then has to provide the CSSP with direct access to their rail booking systems, to allow claims to be processes on their behalf.

But what if a customer account for every operator used a standard method for integration? What if there was a consistent way of providing secure external access to the required ticket and journey information in an account to process a Delay Repay claim?

This access could then allow a CSSP to integrate with a customer’s account and even create a permanent agreed link between these two parties (that either could break whenever they wanted). This would mean that not only could the CSSP validate the data for the journey the customer is claiming for, but by creating this permanent link… they could also process any subsequent delay claims without manual intervention in the future.

For every rail customer across the UK the impact would be huge!

Each delayed customer (with such a link enabled) could then benefit from an automated Delay Repay service. A reversal of the old ways, now flipped around so the customer does not have to instigate every claim when they are delayed. The CSSP would then just have to match the feeds they already get with every delayed ticket data they have access to, plus any available journey information (if only to prove that the customer was indeed travelling on the train service being automatically claimed for).

The impact for the transport authorities would also be significant too. Consistent implementation of an Automatic Delay Repay scheme is something the UK rail industry has been aiming for. This vision can now be facilitated by the introduction of a uniform integration standard.

The implementation of an open API to facilitate consistent secure access to every rail customer’s account has other implications too. The complete adoption of the standard would mean that theoretically the entire UK rail industry would only need to use one CSSP. It could therefore centralise around a single best-of-breed service.

Or more frankly put… the first CSSP to ensure that their systems can fully integrate with an Open Transport API specification would find themselves at a significant advantage in the UK rail market.

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