Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand)

Traversing the mobility jungle

Siemens Mobility is leading the charge in enabling Mobility as a Service (MaaS) for transport ecosystems across the world.

The future of mobility is intermodal. As cities and countries embrace an ever-expanding array of transport services and modes like e-scooters and on-demand transport (DRT), it is becoming increasingly vital for public transport, such as rail, to evolve and collaborate seamlessly with other transport modes to provide accessible and frictionless intermodal journeys for passengers. 

Doing so not only helps passengers to connect to the public transit network more easily, but more importantly, discover new ways to utilise public transport (for example, using DRT as a feeder) and foster a modal shift away from the private car. This is where Mobility as a Service (MaaS) takes centre stage.

In essence, MaaS is a single, integrated digital platform, typically accessed via a mobile application, that provides personalised real-time journey planning, booking, payment and trip monitoring across all transport modes and services.

While the concept of MaaS is not entirely new, its adoption in practice is still in its infancy. 

MaaS has been introduced successfully in parts of Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America, but the concept still has some way to go in many countries, including Australia.

However, the possibility of MaaS in Australia is promising, and is seen by many in the industry as inevitable and necessary in order to streamline the growing transport modes and services and more efficiently facilitate integrated mobility.

Passengers now expect their trips to be as seamless and frictionless as possible – regardless of the transportation mode and  operators involved. MaaS is a solution that can not only meet this expectation, but exceed it and solve their ultimate goal, which is to get to their destination with minimum fuss and be able to access real-time information about the status of transport services at all times. 

For example, passengers may want the convenience of knowing where the location of the train or bus is in real-time is so that they would not have to wait too long in the sun or rain. Or for mobility-impaired users, the implementation of MaaS would mean that they will be able to coordinate their barrier-free trips at the press of a button.

Rail Express spoke to Siemens Mobility’s Sales Manager for Major Projects, Bülent Yilmaz, and Asia Pacific (APAC) Business Manager, Silas Wong, about how the transport technology provider’s MaaS portfolio is leveraging digital technology and data-driven solutions to provide a seamless and connected travel experience for individuals.

Yilmaz said MaaS is one of the company’s strategic initiatives to address the evolving needs of modern urban mobility. It incorporates a comprehensive and innovative approach to transportation that aims to simplify and improve the way people travel. 

“The key idea behind MaaS is to offer a one-stop-shop for various transportation services, integrating different modes of transport such as trains, buses, trams, ferries, taxis, ride-sharing and bike-sharing into a single mobility offering, with public transport as the basis,” he said.

“MaaS has great potential in Australia given its diverse mobility landscape. 

“And we continue to innovate our MaaS offering as trends evolve, so that our MaaS solutions such as our intermodal journey planning and booking platform, can cater to Australian conditions.”


“The aim of MaaS is to help ensure that the passenger relies upon and trusts the public transit system, and of course a big part of this is rail,” Wong said.

“To increase the uptake of rail, we need to consider the bigger picture, as rail is, at the end of the day, part of a larger ecosystem with other modes of transport.

“In recent years, there has been an increase in the uptake of newer transport modes such as e-scooters, for example. 

“And then we have other shared transport services like e-hailing, which just 10 years
ago, was hardly known. But now it’s commonplace via numerous mobile apps such as Uber and Didi.

“Through these examples, we can see that nowadays, passengers are spoilt with an abundance of transport services to choose from. In a way, this can be described as a mobility jungle of transport options.

“So how can passengers navigate this multi-modal ecosystem so that they can choose the journey that is most suitable to them, whether it be the cheapest, most sustainable, or the fastest route, while encouraging them to travel more via public transport such as rail?

“This is where a lot of our customers, like public transit authorities and rail operators, are exploring the concept of intermodality. How do we connect rail with other transport services such as e-bikes, buses, e-scooters and taxis, to make it easier for passengers to get to and from the train stations? 

“One of the most successful concepts uses public transportation as the backbone of a journey in combination with micro and shared mobility as the ideal first and last mile. This is where intermodal journey planning comes into play,” he said.

Wong explained Siemens Mobility has been spearheading the implementation of intermodal journey planning in the public transport industry. 

“For example, with intermodal journey planning, we can show the passenger that they can actually take the e-scooter just around the corner to reach the train station in time to catch the next train and continue their journey,” he said. 

“MaaS covers the end-to-end journey. We’re extending beyond just the station-to-station experience to a door-to-door scenario that allows passengers to seamlessly plan and monitor their trips in real-time using the optimum combination of available transport services, using rail and bus as the basis. 

“And of course, on top of that you can add booking services and payments to the trip plan, to provide the full MaaS experience to passengers.”

Wong said MaaS would also be of benefit amidst the proliferation of demand-responsive transport in Australia.

“That is where you have, for example, buses that are running on dynamic routes instead of fixed ones, to cater for lower density areas where buses could be dispatched to pick up passengers using the most fuel-efficient routes,” he said.

“DRT can serve as the first and last mile, with rail in between. And MaaS can make it easy for people to plan and book and pay for a DRT service to get to the train station, and continue their journey on the train as part of an integrated end-to-end journey itinerary.”

In essence, Wong said making the most of MaaS involves seeing how different modes of transport can be best synergised for the benefit of the passenger.  

“It’s about adopting a collaborative and synergetic approach between transport modes rather than a competing one,” he said.

“Several modes, such as e-scooters and DRT, are naturally complementary to rail and being able to integrate them together as part of a journey plan will help people better discover how else they can travel with public transport.

“As an example, with a MaaS app, a passenger can find out different ways to take the train: rather than walking 20 minutes to the station, they might just use one of the share bicycles and get there in five minutes.”


Wong said greater government investment and regulation in information technology and data sharing is crucial to the success of MaaS systems.

“The government has spent a lot of money to upgrade stations and make them more accessible, for example, building wheelchair ramps, walkways and lifts, but it is equally as important for such information to be available to passengers that require these in order to travel,” he said.

“If these passengers do not know that there’s an accessible ramp or a lift at a certain station, it could deter them from using the train at all. 

“Or if passengers knew there was a park-and-ride where they could park their cars at the train station and continue the trip with the train, all at a cheaper price, then that’s something that would enable them to consider that as an option as opposed to assuming that it’s easier to drive the entire way.”

Wong said that by provisioning infrastructure data and “having that information out there”, this can amplify the impact and usage of public transport infrastructure and services.

“And usually the level of investment for this is much smaller than what you would typically need to build infrastructure,” he said.

Yilmaz was also cognizant of the fact that for MaaS to be successful, there needs to be a common effort from transport service providers to share data to the platform.

“One of the biggest challenges of implementing MaaS is the commercial and legal agreements that have to be established between the MaaS operator and all participating mobility service providers, otherwise known as MSPs,” he said

“This is where the government can come in as a neutral party to establish the governing framework and direction for cooperation and data sharing in order to reduce complexity and promote fair integration.”

Wong said that having integrated more than 85 MSPs across its MaaS projects, it is vital that government, industry and academia work hand-in-hand to tailor MaaS for the local mobility landscape.


Yilmaz said Siemens Mobility has been developing and delivering passenger information and journey planning technologies for more than 35 years to more than 100 customers globally, and is ready to serve the Australian market.

“At the recent AusRAIL PLUS conference, we presented our MaaS product at our stand, meeting visitors and showing the market what we’ve been doing overseas, and some of the lessons we’ve learnt,” he said.

 “We see that the Australian market is evolving towards MaaS. 

“While we haven’t got all our modes of transport fully connected yet, the market continues to grow and we are poised to step in when the environment is ready, whether it’s in one year or five years.

“Future transport strategies from some of the major public transit authorities already include MaaS as a key requirement for creating inclusive and connected journeys for passengers.”

Yilmaz said Siemens Mobility is committed to MaaS and has created a dedicated business unit to target the growing market. 

“Our MaaS app, being a customised or white-label app, has been designed to be open and agnostic, which means it can flexibly connect with third-party systems. Based on our extensive experience delivering MaaS globally, we are able to bring a mature and proven technology to our customers.

“MaaS goes beyond map services such as Google Maps that are more B2C focused and commercialised through ads.

“Our MaaS platform is designed for operators and authorities in mind, giving them the flexibility to manage the system without bias and remain aligned to their strategic objectives. For example, they might configure the journey planning algorithm to be more public transport oriented to encourage a modal shift away from private cars.”

Wong added that by working hand-in-hand with its customer community, Siemens has been able to continuously innovate new functionalities that are impactful to passengers. 

“A key functionality of the MaaS app we have developed is targeted messaging in times of service disruptions. Typically, what we see is a blanket statement being sent out to app users when there is a disruption such as a signalling fault, bus or train breakdowns, weather events, traffic conditions, accidents, and industrial strike action.

“With our system, we can issue targeted messaging for the impacted passengers only for the specific route they’re travelling on.

“So, if I’m in the office or at home, and I’m not travelling, I won’t receive a disruption notice.

“Rerouting also comes in handy here. Say, my train is disrupted. Now what? How do I still get to my destination?

“Our system has the ability to provide passengers with the latest disruption information and a curated list of what the next best travel options are, which might be to grab a taxi if they still want to arrive on time, or take a more cost-effective alternative but be 20 minutes late rather than two hours. 

“The key message is that, at the end of the day, MaaS puts passengers at the core, so that they can get from A to B as seamlessly as possible, while being able to choose their preferred combination of transport services, with public transport as the basis.”

Wong concluded that with the proven experience and technology in MaaS, Siemens has high hopes to bring its expertise to the Australian market as integrated mobility and MaaS take centre stage.