MENTZ provides the software to register for connections to other trains using the MENTZ Gullivr app
Gaining attention from the local media, the Bavarian Railways Company (BEG) announced “connection registry by app” for Bavarian regional trains.
The core of this innovation, which is unique in Germany, is software developed by MENTZ GmbH in Munich. It manages connection requests from various apps and notifies the dispatchers of the connecting trains in the event of a delay.
Currently, it is possible to report a connection request using the MENTZ BEG Gullivr App “Bayern-Fahrplan”. The “DB Streckenagent” app is also connected to this software. For rail passengers in Bavaria, this new feature means a real gain in convenience.
“Thanks to the new feature in our Gullivr app, which is used by BEG, travelling by train in Bavaria is more reliable: In the event of delayed long-distance and regional trains, passengers can now inform the connecting train within the timetable app and request it to wait for them,” says Managing Director Christoph Mentz. Until now, train passengers first had to search laboriously for the train staff to announce that there are connecting passengers. In the near future, travel chains of regional buses and trains will also be connected with each other, so that buses will also wait for connecting passengers. After all, making connections is one of the most important criteria for the satisfaction of public transport passengers.
Kudos for this digital solution also came from the Bavarian Transport Minister Christian Bernreiter: “The function increases comfort for passengers and makes the travel chain more reliable. This makes us pioneers in Germany and beyond.”
More comfort for rail passengers
What sounds simple at first is technically anything but trivial: “First of all, the connection requests from the various app backends are sent to the central connection management, which we call ‘middleware’. The middleware monitors if the connection is at risk. Then, if necessary, the software has to decide which control centre to contact. The corresponding dispatchers (i.e. Agilis, DB ,or Länderbahn, for instance) have all the necessary train information available in real time at their workplace thanks to the middleware. They decide and send the result via the middleware to the respective app backend. The backend now triggers a push message to the passenger’s smartphone,” explains Dr Matthias Erven, project manager at MENTZ. Exact timing is important so that the passenger finds out whether he or she will reach the connecting train until shortly before the change.
Technically demanding, but simple for travellers
And how does it work in practice to report a connection request via app? “It’s very simple,” says Marthe Roch, also MENTZ project manager. “As soon as the travel information app – e.g. Bayern-Fahrplan – recognises a connection as suitable to demand for a connection, a corresponding button appears in the app. This also happens when there is no delay at all. With a tap on this button, the software sends the connection request. To prevent misuse, position data is used to check whether the passenger is actually on the selected route. If everything is plausible, the system saves the connection request centrally. If necessary, it is transmitted to the control centre. The passenger is not aware of the complex decision-making and technical processes. They only receive a push message telling them whether the planned onward journey will work or not.”
However, the new technology is not a guarantee of a connection. Whether a train will wait depends on many factors, and the decision is made by a member of staff at the relevant control centre after consideration or, under certain circumstances, after consultation with higher-level authorities.
The development of this highly sophisticated software solution continues: The system is designed in such a way that other apps from railway undertakings and transport associations can be connected in the future. It will also be possible to integrate further traffic control centres or to use the system in other regions.