I T A L Group Limited

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by I T A L Group Limited's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from I T A L Group Limited is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Derrick Bilsby, director
ITAL brings software solutions
to complex industries
The digital railway is not just about signalling trains across
the infrastructure. It also needs to include timetabling,
crew management and other considerations. This ambition
is what ITAL, a Hampshire-based software company, is beginning
to achieve on many busy rail networks. The company was
established in 2003 by a four-strong team of ex-railway stalwarts
who recognised the potential of integrated software solutions
as a means of bringing the operation and the service of the
railways up to date. It now employs over 70 software developers,
customer service specialists and workflow consultants who are
working to find simpler ways to manage complex businesses.
Overseeing all this is the director, DerrickBilsby.
The British Rail challenge
The challenge to technologically shake up the rail industry has not been without
frustration. The fear of trusting new ideas, of integrating new systems with existing
ones and of openly assessing risk and reward means making headway in this
industry can be difficult.
ITAL is a small company with a strong heritage. Our philosophy is to make complex
processes simple. Nowhere is this arguably more relevant than within a rail industry
that has, at times, failed to keep up with modern advancements that would
radically change the financial and operational capabilities of a growing network
with rising customer numbers, as well as the general perception of this sector.
»Director: Derrick Bilsby
»Established in 2003
»Based in Hampshire
»Services: Software solutions for
industries which rely on people
for day-to-day management
»No. of employees: 70
»Investors in People
accreditation 2017
ITAL Group Limited
Forward-thinking train operators,
however, are beginning to understand
the full potential of the solutions we
propose. In turn, this is sustaining more
growth and ideas, meaning that ITAL is
building a reputation for partnership as
well as innovation.
Software to improve rail
performance: ITAL railway
The railway is made up of three
central components: the alignment
of train staff (driver and conductors),
rolling stock (trains) and timetabling
to allow trains safe passage on a
crowded network. When things are
in harmony, all is well. When one
small element is out of sync, the
disruption can be prolonged and
expensive for both rail operators and,
of course, the travelling public. The
ability to manage disruption to best
effect and get the timetable back on
track as soon as possible is always a
priority. Nevertheless, today’s railways,
unbelievably, still don’t have the ability
to dynamically “join up” rolling stock
and train crew, such that there can be
a transition to a contingency timetable
in times of disruption, with a return
to normal timetable once the problem
has been resolved.
With this in mind, ITAL has utilised
modern technology to develop a train
crew management system, committing
significant investment and undertaking
the financial risk rather than Network
Rail, train operating companies or the
tax payer doing so.
The system brings two main benefits.
Firstly, it brings all components
together so that the position of staff,
rolling stock and timetable can be
aligned. This, in turn, adds much-
needed time. Understanding where
the train crew plan is broken allows
controllers, train crew managers,
station controllers and train crew to
communicate with one another so
that changes can be made quickly
and efficiently, supporting timetable
changes as they are implemented –
in essence mitigating the effect of
disruption and getting service back as
soon as possible.
ITAL’s faster, fairer, transparent
fare enforcement and appeals
The uniformity and transparency
of penalty notice enforcement and
appeals is an area that lets the rail
industry down. Lack of consistency
on enforcement, the perceived
lack of transparency and outdated
technology make this area of
railway management out of touch
and untrusted. And with around
£250million of avoided fares on
National Rail alone, this is an area
that can benefit financially and
reputationally from improvement.
We have worked with Transport
Focus, London TravelWatch and the
Rail Delivery Group to find ways to
protect honest fare-paying passengers
with improved front-end enforcement,
develop processes to simplify the
issuing and paying of penalty
fares, and bring customer service
enhancements to add transparency
and consistency to appeals processing.
Penalty fares is an
area that can benefit
financially and
reputationally from
The fear of
trusting new
ideas, of
integrating new
systems with
existing ones
and of openly
assessing risk
and reward
means making
headway in this
industry can be
Highlighting best practice
Technology improvements have
already made payment of fares and
fines easier, using app and web-based
payment solutions, while reducing
paperwork and bureaucracy. At
the other end of the spectrum we
work with train companies to refine
intelligence techniques to ensure that
persistent fare evaders are brought to
justice and, where possible, that they
bear the full cost of their fraudulent
activity. We continue to work to
simplify and adapt processes so that
the travelling public and the tax payer
don’t continue to pick up the tab for
fraudulent travel.
The future
ITAL has invested heavily developing
our products and services, and
will continue to invest in new and
innovative technologies to help
businesses simplify their workflow
processes. We are growing organically,
by recommendation, by tailoring our
growth and by marketing toward new
market opportunities.
Small businesses like ours have a
real role to play in bringing modern
ideas to our railway system. The
recent penalty fare changes, where
we worked with the DfT and other
railway bodies, is a good example.
We were in a position to bring a
ready-made solution for independent
appeals processing. Yet there is
more we can bring if we had a
bigger platform. Large, international
corporations have a natural tendency
towards well-established, large
businesses, than embracing the agility
and innovative thinking of smaller
companies. Together, though, we
can bring much-needed uniformity
and efficiency, with more benefits
for passengers and shareholders
alike. If the government were to lead
the way by bringing more dynamic
companies like ITAL to the industry
decision-making table, consulting and
communicating with us, this would be
a positive step.
ITAL’s solutions are not only for
the benefit of the railway. While
this has been our heritage and the
strong platform on which we have
built foundations, we also work with
operators, designers and customer
service specialists in different and
complementary sectors to support
the shift to enhanced productivity,
improved customer satisfaction and
increased value for shareholders.
We are proud of our work to date. As
a small business, we know we have to
be well organised and lean, without
bailouts to support us. We have to
diversify risk in many well-managed
areas, and not rely on any single sector
or profit stream. Small businesses
today are in the shadow of larger ones,
but with a larger platform on which
we can raise our voices, the effect
on businesses large and small, the
economy and – of course – our much-
loved railway, will be positive.
We continue
to work to
simplify and
processes so
that the
public and the
tax payer don’t
continue to
pick up the tab
for fraudulent
App and web-based
payment solutions
are already reducing
paperwork and


This article was sponsored by I T A L Group Limited. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy