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Eurostar's CIO Christophe Lemaire is focused on tunnel vision

Mark Chillingworth | Nov. 28, 2012
"There is a lot of ambition to connect the rail services in Europe," says Christophe Lemaire, CIO of the rail operator that originally connected London to the rest of Europe -- Eurostar. Europe's currency and community is having a tough time at present. This is creating hyperbole of currency and community collapse, but a discussion with Lemaire reminds me how integrated our European lives have become and how the business community has hardly left the platform of European possibilities.

Oracle provides a core financial system and at present a bespoke SNCF reservation system sits behind every booking. In a further reflection of Eurostar's consortium past, a British Rail roster system is still in use for staff management.

Speed and agility

As Lemaire brings in systems more suited to the size and business of Eurostar, he hopes the organisation will become flexible and agile.

"Because we are small we are capable of going much faster than others in the rail industry. I want to use the fact that we are a small company to keep fresh.

"What takes us two years would take SNCF a decade," he says, making an observation that could well be the golden ticket for Eurostar and the reason for the delays experienced by major national operators looking to compete.

Looking ahead, Lemaire expects a cloud implementation to follow the current virtualisation programme, consolidating the servers into one datacentre.

"For a business of our size, the cloud is a no-brainer," he says.

Lemaire has rail running through his veins, and says he has done since his youth, but like the CIOs of ticketing firm and IT leaders at his rivals in the low-cost airline sector, Lemaire has that same enthusiasm for how technology can improve the process and the rail experience. It is people like this that are stoking the fires of the rail revolution currently taking place.


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