DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT

Discovery Phase – new Passenger Demand Forecasting System

BUSINESS CONTEXT

BJSS was engaged by Department for Transport and the Passenger Demand Forecasting Council (PDFC) to undertake a GDS-aligned Discovery phase to review the options available for replacing their aging demand forecasting modelling tool (MOIRA 1).

As MOIRA 1 is used across the rail industry, the stakeholder landscape includes many competing train operating companies, Department for Transport, and rail industry-specific consultants, all with differing requirements. While MOIRA 1 assumes trains have infinite capacity, MOIRA 2.x versions include the deterring effect of crowding. MOIRA 2.2 is available within the rail industry, but was perceived as complex and difficult to use, which led to poor uptake of the new version and users continuing to use MOIRA 1.

BJSS SOLUTION

BJSS initiated a series of workshops and meetings throughout the short Discovery phase to gather information from the PDFC members to conduct further analysis and present back the findings.

The BJSS team worked with the PDFC to construct a service design using information gathered during workshops and meetings to help construct a service blueprint outlining a future view of the service. This included capturing key requirements to build a high-level backlog for the next phase: Alpha. An analysis of user needs and how well they are served by both products was a key part of this activity, creating personas to help the PDFC understand the variety of user types and their needs.

BJSS investigated and analysed the two products currently used by PDFC – MOIRA 1 and MOIRA 2.2 to obtain an ‘as is’ view of these products in order to understand how they work, areas for improvement and any key issues or risks relating to them.

Due to the nature of the Discovery, there was an emphasis on investigating the technology and data science behind MOIRA 1 and 2.x. This included investigating the MOIRA 2.2 algorithm to assess its accuracy, stability and performance.

PDFC comprises several different parties (train operators, Network Rail, Passenger Demand Group and Department for Transport), raising the issue of data sovereignty. BJSS helped the group understand the impact any changes may have in relation to this by mapping the data flow to determine the impact of alterations made to MOIRA. Additionally, the team explored other technical challenges relating to hosting data models in the cloud to improve access and performance.

BUSINESS OUTCOMES

BJSS conducted a final review meeting with follow-up activities to capture all the key findings to support the viability of an updated forecasting service and any risks or issues regarding the cost of pursing this.

The report concluded that there was strong demand from the PDFC to retain the core features and functionality of MOIRA, however, the service needed to be simpler to use, more accessible and better performing, with a better user experience. Due to the large number of stakeholders involved, BJSS recommended the appointment of a Product Owner to represent and lead the PDFC for future project phases, Alpha and Beta.