Tuesday 19 July 2022

An interview with Christian Steyer: How to reach true multimodality within Europe - an air + rail love story?

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In the context of the European Project Modus, we will be inviting experts from the air and rail sectors to give their opinion on the future of intermodality in order to inspire others.

Our first guest was Christian Steyer. He started at Austrian Airlines in 1988 and has been responsible for airline cooperation and partnership management in Vienna since 2009. Christian Steyer is also the inventor of the AIRail intermodal cooperation between Austrian Airlines and ÖBB and has been a partner since 2014.

Seamless and smart door-to-door multimodality and an enhanced traveller experience are high on the list for all forms of transport in Europe. Stronger combined air-rail mobility and cooperation will play a significant role in achieving these objectives. The Modus project and other initiatives have been assessing the progress towards multimodality within Europe. It showed that we still have a long way to go in this regard, and we would like to ask you to share your insights on how true multimodality can be reached.

What are the main challenges to improving air + rail mobility in Europe? And what needs to be changed?

a) Network:
CS: We need to increase the number of long-distance trains and destinations, which directly serve airports/hubs.
Changing trains (with all your luggage) to reach airports is definitely not attractive at all.

b) Infrastructure:
CS: We must increase the number of high-speed routes and trains, while connecting airports to the rail network. Therefore, this will decrease the time a train needs to cover a distance, as well as the total travel time for passengers.

c)Product / Baggage:
CS: Number one on customers’ wish lists is a “baggage solution”. This doesn’t mean an expensive and complicated luggage collection services, check-in facilities at train stations, nor obligatory check-in deadlines and decreasing flexibility, however.

Which current or future business models can enable multimodality?

CS: Existing Interline- and Codeshare-cooperation models work quite well.

Looking at additional current business/ partnership models within the airline industry, it may be worthwhile to evaluate the pros and cons of joint ventures between airlines and train companies, for example.

Which infrastructure adaptions are needed to make multimodality a reality?

CS: The high-speed railway network should be developed, airports should be incorporated into the railway network, state-of-the-art train stations at airports need to be built, and the journey at the airport between trains and planes need to be shortened, by creating baggage belts at airports from the train to the plane and vice versa.

What should travellers expect in the future in terms of personalisation and required travel services?

CS: Future travellers will be able to book one-stop door to door mobility offers, using one contractual partner for all parts of the journey, including cars/cabs, trains, planes, etc. to get from their home to the train station, to the airport, to their destination, and the remaining journey to the hotel as the final stop.

What should be implemented first in your sector?

CS: We already offer a wide range of great features to our intermodal customers, a “baggage solution” as mentioned above, is our current number one project in continuing to make intermodality more and more attractive.

The Modus project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme on the topic SESAR-ER4-10-2019 ATM Role in Intermodal Transport under grant agreement No 891166. It started in June 2020 and will run until November 2022.

To find out more about the Modus project or to contact the project group, please use one of the following channels:

For more information, please contact: perez@uic.org

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