We recently completed our second train operating company (TOC) web mobilisation for the new Greater Anglia franchise. Following the successful build of the website for ScotRail last year, we were invited to develop the new site for Great Anglia (which is also an Abellio franchise).
We were able to draw on our experience with the ScotRail mobilisation to hit the extremely tight deadline for the new franchise: a deadline set in granite by the Department for Transport. A feature of train franchise mobilisations is the government announces the winner at the last possible moment and the switchover for the franchise HAS to happen on the day they say, however short the time available). We had 2 months.
The brief was to implement common design patterns across the two Abellio owned franchise sites in such a way as to enable cross-fertilisation of ideas and best practice. The idea was that they should retain their separate identities but each be able to benefit from improvements to the other system since they share a common technical platform and are hosted in the same overall environment.
That said, there were many functional differences between the two and we worked hard to ensure there was no compromise in the implementation.
Even with experience acquired during the ScotRail mobilisation, the project was just as challenging. It required a disciplined and systematic approach, and smooth and regular communication with the site commissioners to meet the requirements and deliver inside the deadline.
Some of the aspects of the build worthy of mention include:
- Common design patterns, functionalities and interoperability that were designed to beapplicable to any TOC.
- Deep integration with 3rd party systems, including Nexus Alpha, the Trainline ticket system, National Rail Enquiries (NRE) and Rail Development Group (RDG, formerly ATOC)
- Tools for control and train planning teams to manage information flows to the public directly
- Devops work to design and commission scalable cloud hosting with physical backendinfrastructure.