Great Western Railway

If you could choose between getting one in ten railway journeys free or, having the money for the tenth journey invested to improve the rail network – which would you choose?

If this offer were available to every rail-user, passengers would save an enormous £240 million, or see that £240M invested in the network each year. Not bad.

That £240 million is about the size of annual fraud through fare avoidance on the UK rail network. AFD Software works with a wide variety of organisations who are seeking to reduce this enormous loss through cost-effective IT solutions. There are significant challenges, but the potential payback is enormous.

Deter and Prosecute
Great Western Railway recently equipped its Revenue Protection Officers with state-of-the-art mobile devices. This initiative formed an important part of a push to deter fare avoidance, increase revenue and make the prosecutions process more successful. The system came from AFD Partner IQM Software and, having worked in Revenue Protection himself, their Account Manager Martin McCormack understands the issues very well. He recalls the pressures of manual working:

“The biggest problem for a Revenue Protection Officer (RPO) is verification of offender names and addresses. This occurs either due to a lack of access to back office staff to manually check details or, because that access is frequently interrupted due to signal loss in rail tunnels and cuttings.”

Bounce and Juggle
Martin continued: “The Officer is bouncing around on the train, juggling the penalty fare notice book and other documents in one hand, a phone in the other and a heavy ticket machine around the neck or belt clip. We’d arrive at a station and still be unable to verify basic, but necessary name and address detail. An Officer cannot restrain the suspect – so the offender just leaves. A waste of time and money, very frustrating and even the cause of aggression or violence toward our staff!” The core problem identified by Martin is how to verify names and addresses on the move, when internet, radio and telephone access are at best intermittent.

And… relax
With AFD Names & Numbers the details of over 40 million UK adults are compressed and encrypted into just 1.5GB. Installed directly onto Android, iOS and Windows mobile operating systems – they provide lightning fast access to the details of most UK residents.

With this in place, the offender’s details need only be entered once onto the mobile device. The Penalty Fare record is created and a database on the device can be instantly checked for repeat offenders who are liable to be prosecuted. False identity details are also more likely to be exposed on-the-spot. IQM Director Bob Scott explained:

“Removing the need for paper, pens and mobile phones also eliminated the need for expensive on-call back office support. Empowering frontline staff with effective tools such as the AFD Names & Numbers software inspires confidence in both staff and public. Frontline Revenue Protection staff can now focus on a single process through a single mobile device and print penalty forms from a hand-held printer. The front-end process becomes part of a single overall process, leading where necessary to the production of a court file.

Because complete, accurate information is keyed at the very beginning of the process, manual interventions are minimised from then on.

Digital records mean better management information about the times, locations and staff necessary to apprehend offenders – leading to increased productivity, effectiveness and efficiency.”

Reference Data Completeness and Quality
IQM Director Bob Scott continued: “Before selecting AFD Software, IQM followed a due diligence process which includes checking the completeness and accuracy of data. Some data sets are built around only the Edited Electoral Roll however, AFD Software go beyond this by validating data from other sources.

The best fit for our RevenueShield system from a technical, data quality and security perspective is AFD Names & Numbers. With it the probability of successful penalty and ticket payments are greatly improved.

For operational reasons, Names & Numbers must be installed on the mobile device. However, we still needed to ensure that regular automatic data updates could be put in place. AFD understood our requirement and have delivered.”

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