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Capacity Management During the Pandemic & Beyond

As the second wave of COVID-19 took hold in 2020, in response to shifting COVID-19 social distancing measures and recommendations.

Transport for Wales (TfW) identified the need for a ‘boarding pass’ style solution to increase customer confidence and enable people to Travel Safer by maintaining social distancing on their rail services. Cost and speed of deployment (within 2 months) were both critical and the solution needed to work parallel with incumbent ticket issuing systems as part of TfW’s critical technology infrastructure.



After an introduction from a leading ticket issuing system supplier, SilverRail, Transport for Wales consulted ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ (“YST”). YST rose to the challenge, engineering a bespoke deployment of its/our existing Travel Assistant platform, focusing on the boarding pass requirement.

A key feature of the YST Travel Assistant is that it issues a personalised travel plan that can be used as proof of having planned a journey. This can be used to facilitate timed entry, in the case of venues or events, or confirmation of a customer’s intent to use a specific timetabled transport service. To use it as a ‘boarding pass’, however, it would need to check available capacity on the selected service and make a ‘counted place’ reservation. In this way, YST could ensure there would be adequate capacity and adjust or ration availability and occupancy levels by individual rail service where required.

The system also needed to be multi-lingual, easily integrated with online retail platforms and be able to be accessed at ticket machines.

The ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ Solution 

YST delivered the bespoke boarding pass requirement by working with SilverRail and the National Rail Reservation Service. The solution displays availability of services, based on the required capacity restriction, using YST’s personalised travel plan for a specific timetabled train service based of its current yield. As with all YST Travel Assistant deployments, it was developed as both an easily embedded widget for online purchase flow integration, and as a stand-alone responsive webpage, easily accessed from mobile devices or at a station or platform whilst purchasing a ticket from a walk-up machine. By making the system mandatory to travel (though only enforced at TfW’s discretion), Transport for Wales can now control and adjust the available capacity of its rail services in line with social distancing restrictions.

ROI & Scalability

Sam Norman, TFW Senior IT Project Manager, says, “We saw an immediate uptake and critically, TfW were able to manage capacity effectively when we introduced the Travel Assistant Boarding Pass solution before the second lockdown. It has proved a huge success and I believe it is a rail industry first.”   

Dave Williams, IT & Digital Services Director at Transport for Wales, explains, “‘You. Smart. Thing.’ have been really engaging, rising to a business-critical challenge when no-one else could. A key aspect of this project has been introducing their technology into the Transport for Wales IT services environment, replicating their existing Travel Assistant software with our own instance of the platform. We can now leverage YST’s innovation alongside a robust business continuity plan that rivals that of our more established IT suppliers.”

Dave Williams and YST CEO, Chris Thompson, gave an overview of the Travel Assistant Boarding Pass project at the Smartex Transport Card Forum 2020, in a webinar session entitled ‘Integrating Capacity Management During the Pandemic & Beyond’, featured below.

Editors Notes:

To find out more about Transport for Wales Rail visit

For ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ visit

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