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Customer story

Enabling cross-Europe train travel through a modern API design

Related services
Agile Architecture

Industry
Travel

Company
Xebia

Crossing an international border by train from or to the Netherlands, you are joining NS International (NSI), the business unit of the Dutch railways responsible for international travel. NSI serves more than 3,300 European destinations with different transport options: Thalys, ICE International, Eurostar and TGV high-speed trains, as well as the Intercity trains to Brussels and Berlin.

Why
Enable a smooth customer journey for international train bookings
What
Developing a modern API platform for a variety of B2C and B2B sales channels
How
Platform Design and Architecture Consulting

Nederlandse Spoorwegen International

NSI strives to offer her clients speed and convenience when booking tickets, traveling to and from the station, staying at the station and on the train.

The dedicated IT team of NSI supports Marketing, Commerce, Finance and Operations with many interfaces to different organizations and systems in different countries.

We love to work on the future of train travel in Europe by innovating continuously and delivering new value to our customers, the travelers. It takes a lot of stamina to pursue innovation power during day-to day business. Xebia’s Consultants helped us to enhance this innovation power by constantly challenging the status quo and therefore lifting the overall result.

Pascal Reijnders Head of IT at NS International

Enabling the future of train travel

NSI has high ambitions when it comes to the future of international train travel in Europe. Aiming for doubling the number of train travelers until 2030, it is obvious that IT has to upgrade as well to support this ambition. Shifting towards a Digital First strategy, Personal services to customers, Partnering, Sustainability and Innovation are key.

Throughout Europe there are different train carriers in each country, driving their own business through different sales channels. While the individual carriers are focusing on the front end of the business (website, online, pos), the system’s backend is supported by a common sales system. This enables to book a cross-border ticket in Europe.

NSI thrives to offer the traveler a seamless end-to-end journey. Whether they enter this journey by mobile, web or a service expert, the experience should remain the same. Even when the journey will cross a border or involves multiple carries, such as Thalys, Eurostar or ICE.

Therefore, NSI chose Xebia to help set up a flexible International Railway API platform that serves as an easy-to-use connector to the backend booking systems by hiding internal complexity and providing augmented functionality to further improve the customer journey. The NSI API platform is not only used by NSI to build their own web and mobile booking tool, but also serves as partner API to allow B2B partners to book international train tickets for their customers through the NSI booking platform.

Think API first!

In order to set up the NSI API platform, Xebia provided a Lead Architect:

  • Developing an API First mindset throughout the team by managing Design Thinking workshops
  • Establishing a Change Strategy
  • Technology choices
  • API Design

Stakeholder Management for different parties involved: NSI and railway operators from other countries.

Enabling omnichannel revenue

The new NSI API platform standard links a state-of-the-art backend booking system to different sales channels while maintaining a quality experience for the user.  The NSI API platform is developed in Java/SpringBoot and runs on a cloud-native AWS container platform following 12-factor app principles as much as possible to provide the quality attributes, such as observability and scalability, that are needed.

The NSI API layer operates independently from the logistic backend. This flexibility allows it to integrate with different railway operators within Europe: The customer can book a journey from Amsterdam to Venice on one single ticket.

Due to the standardized API approach, connected B2B partners also sell NSI tickets flawlessly, while obtaining high technical quality level.

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