Bus and rail operator Abellio has hired Aiden Barr as its CIO for its UK operations as the organisation plans to meet the digital needs of its customers and the franchise agreements its operates for the Department of Transport and local government.
Abellio is one the most significant mass transport operators in the UK running Scotrail, Greater Anglia and Mersey Rail while on the roads it runs the famous red buses for London and Surrey. Abellio states that it moves over 1 million Brits to work, home and school a day by bus and train. The Dutch owned business is also a major provider of transport services in Germany and Holland.
Barr has joined Abellio from the shipping industry having completed three years with Gearbulk a major shipping service provider.
“The big challenge of the role is how we can bring digital technologies in and make IT customer focusing,” Barr says of his national remit. “Digital in transport is really kicking off and has been recognised by the Department of Transport,” Barr says. At the close of 2016 Minister for Transport the Conservative Chris Grayling demanded that rail firms invest in smart ticketing.
“Smart ticketing such as the Oyster card in London is something we can take nationwide and join up with other services to create a door-to-door transport offer,” Barr says. Barr spent over four years with holiday specialist TUI and he says his experience of that sector will be helpful at Abellio. “The retail aspects of TUI drove a strong customer focus in shaping the technology agenda. At Abellio there are increasing targets for passenger satisfaction and great opportunities to bring a customer focus to passenger information and on board connectivity.” Prior to TUI Barr was in mass transport, heading IT at NATS, the national air traffic service for the UK.
The rail sector has seen a number of leading CIOs enter its platform, Andrew Turner remains with train travel as the current CIO for the HS2 fast rail project having been CIO of Crossrail in London and former Jaguar Land Rover CIO Jeremy Vincent has joined Network Rail the infrastructure provider.