Monday 19 September 2022

An interview with Oana Savu

How to reach true multimodality within Europe - an air+rail love story?

Share this article

Our third guest expert in the context of the European Modus project is Oana Savu.

Oana Savu, the Chief Strategy Officer at Dohop, has been heavily involved in recent years in the collaboration between the air and rail sectors to develop intermodal tickets for transport.

Seamless and smart door-to-door multimodality and an enhanced traveller experience are a high priority for all transport modes in Europe. Stronger combined air-rail mobility and cooperation will play a significant role in achieving these objectives. The Modus project and other initiatives have been assessing the progress towards multimodality within Europe. It showed that we still have a long way to go in this regard, and we would like to ask you to share your insights on how true multimodality can be achieved.

What are the challenges to improving air + rail mobility in Europe? And what needs to be changed?
OS: To improve air and rail mobility in Europe, we need the right regulatory framework, progress on infrastructure, and a set of common industry standards for commercialisation.

This regulatory framework will need to address a number of elements, such as updating rules for consumer protection, including multi-modal transport, and solving how differently VAT, data exchange between operators, and data protection are treated, to name a few.

Infrastructure needs to be improved to facilitate intermodal transport, for example, by simplifying passenger and baggage transfers.

Airports could become real multimodal platforms if they can efficiently connect both passengers and baggage with other modes of transport.

Common industry standards for commercialisation and data exchange are needed to efficiently create and distribute intermodal products and ensure a seamless and transparent door-to-door customer experience. For example, there are too many differences between the way airlines define and distribute their content (filling schedules and fares, using PNR and e-tickets) and how trains operate (more location codes, single tickets etc.).

Which current or future business models can enable multimodality?
OS: Intermodal transport is currently based upon either complementarity or substitution principles. Complementarity is when a train operation enables the transfer to an airline hub. Substitution is when air transport is replaced by train transport.

In the future, business models could change drastically. Airlines could operate trains, different stakeholders could merge or create joint entities in order to optimise their respective networks. Airlines and train operators could also interact with their customers using new paradigms, such as digital identities.

Two major aspects will contribute to how multimodality is spread: the customer experience and environmental considerations.

Business models will be built around customer’s expectations for a seamless door-to-door journey while being highly transparent regarding emissions.

Which infrastructure adaptions are needed to make multimodality a reality?
OS: The key objective is to offer a seamless and efficient customer journey. Friction points should be reviewed to ensure that there is very little difference between catching a flight or taking a train in terms of check in, security controls, passport control, boarding, and so on.

Most of the adaptations will need to happen in airports and train stations to connect them efficiently. This concerns both passengers and their baggage, while paying special attention to passengers with reduced mobility, for whom multimodal journeys are even more challenging.

What should travellers expect in the future in terms of personalisation and required travel services?
OS: Travellers will expect a personalised experience with specifically tailored choices, richer content, and better service.

The relevant stakeholders are working on embedding this into shopping, booking, or travelling which requires the right tools and systems to identify specific needs.
Personalisation may concern individuals (who decide to be identified) or groups of individuals (where their general booking patterns are used).

What should be implemented first in your sector?
OS: The short-term focus is on clarifying where the liability lies for different operators in case of irregular operations (i.e. disruption).

The second focus should be on developing and implementing industry standards for multimodal journeys. These would consist of providing a generic and flexible commercial template agreement, which parties can adapt based on their needs, as well as an agnostic approach to guidelines and data modelling to facilitate the connectivity between airlines and other transport operators.

The third focus should be on having a concrete vision for multimodal development with ambitious policies and infrastructure projects.

The Modus project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme on the topic SESAR-ER4-10-2019 ATM Role in Intermodal Transport under grant agreement No 891166. It started in June 2020 and will run until November 2022.

To find out more about the Modus project or to contact the project group, please use one of the following channels:

Further information please contact Vanessa Perez at

0 vote