Jeremy Acklam TfN2

Transport for the North appoints ‘smart travel’ director

Sarah Townsend

The region’s transport body has hired Jeremy Acklam as director of its £150m Integrated and Smart Travel programme, intended to find ways of using technology to improve rail and ticketing services.

Acklam is a travel technology entrepreneur with a 35-year background in smart travel, working with operators, regulators, the Government and suppliers to develop account-based ticketing.

Most notably, he co-led the development and launch of the UK’s first online rail ticket retailer, Trainline, and worked on the early delivery of the national smartcard system. He is the founder of Global Travel Ventures, latterly Hindsight, a rail ticketing app that was sold to Virgin Rail in 2018.

Acklam is also director of Venture Innovators, a holding company that has launched four start-ups since 2009 through which he helped win four UK rail franchise bids as a consultant for the Department for Transport.

Other roles have included serving as director of website developer DataX Software, and as managing director of Quno at Silverrail Technologies.

At Transport for the North, Acklam will deploy his expertise to execute the organisation’s vision for integrated and smart travel, including the delivery of flexi-season tickets and contactless pay-as-you-go schemes.

Such initiatives are included as a priority in TfN’s proposed Economic Recovery Plan to rebuild and transform the North post-Covid-19.

The programme is also working to secure funding from the DfT to help the North’s transport authorities develop local smart ticketing initiatives.

Barry White, chief executive of TfN, said: “The need for smart travel, including contactless ticketing, has been reinforced by the current crisis. As such, Jeremy [has been appointed] to help accelerate our ambitions for a safer, more accessible and enhanced customer experience on public transport across the region.”

Acklam added: “When the time is right, we need people to start using public transport again to tackle some of the biggest challenges of our time, including the North’s economic levelling up and decarbonisation agendas.

“Smart travel is key to giving our passengers confidence and implementing bold plans for the future.”


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While I applaud any form of smart ticketing, it’s 2020 and we still don’t have dumb integrated tickets – this is technology that many cities were enjoying last century. Essentially, one ticket for any or all forms of transport. The ticket is from a to b, not for a form of transport, so regardless of whether you need a bus, tram, ferry or train, whether you buy single tickets, day passes or season tickets, your purchase will get you from a to b, even if you need to change modes. It’s not rocket science – this was achievable last century without smart technology. The smart technology is the bit which works out the best/cheapest option for the user once you have integrated ticketing. I’m happy if we start with getting the basics.