Transport for the North (TfN) has appointed Jeremy Acklam as the new director for its struggling Integrated and Smart Travel (IST) programme.
The sub-national transport body said Mr Acklam (pictured) has ‘an impressive track record working in the smart travel sector’ including having co-led the development and launch of the UK’s first online rail ticket retailer, Trainline, and worked on the national ITSO smartcard system.
‘Over his 35-year career, he has gained extensive experience of working with operators, regulators, Government and suppliers to develop account-based ticketing. He was also mentored by Sir Richard Branson.’
TfN said Mr Acklam will now play a lead role in driving forward its strategic vision for integrated and smart travel, including the delivery of flexi season tickets and contactless pay-as-you-go travel on rail - initiatives which were recently included as priority schemes in TfN’s proposed Economic Recovery Plan to rebuild and transform the North post-COVID-19.
It said the £150m IST programme is also currently progressing a business case with the Department for Transport (DfT) to secure funding to support the North’s transport authorities in further developing their own local smart ticketing initiatives.
However, as Transport Network has reported, TfN’s smart ticketing plans have fallen significantly behind schedule and in January it had to scale back its roll-out of capped contactless fare payment after bus operators declined to sign up.
A TfN spokesman told Transport Network that contactless pay-as-you-go travel has not been introduced and it is awaiting feedback from the DfT on its strategic paper and aiming to have developed a plan and submitted a formal business case by the end of the 20/21 business year.
The launch of flexis seasons on smartcards will be taking place on the first trial routes later this month, probably as a 'soft customer launch' in line with government advice to only make essential journeys on rail.
Mr White said: ‘The need for smart travel, including contactless ticketing, has been reinforced by the current crisis. As such, Transport for the North is pleased to appoint Jeremy to the role of Integrated and Smart Travel programme director to help accelerate our ambitions for a safer, more accessible and enhanced customer experience on public transport across the region.
‘Jeremy brings with him invaluable industry experience and an entrepreneurial spirit which will be necessary to bring to fruition what are technologically and commercially complex projects.’
Mr Acklam said: ‘When the time is right, to tackle some of the biggest challenges of our time including the North’s economic levelling up and decarbonisation, we need people to start using public transport again. Smart travel is key to giving our passengers confidence and implementing bold plans for the future.
‘Transport for the North’s vision for smart travel is truly ambitious and poses many challenges, but I believe by building on the IST programme’s achievements to date and continuing to work collaboratively with the wider industry, the team will be able to deliver real change for passengers.’