Developing A Large-Scale Passenger Loyalty Platform


First Line was engaged by a system integration firm as part of a larger IT transformation program for the end client, one of the world’s largest passenger railroad carriers.


Customer loyalty is fundamental to any business strategy, and it is especially true in today’s challenging economy. Implementing a successful customer loyalty program that engages and rewards the firm’s best customers provides it with a strategic business tool for increasing revenue and profitability.

Flexible and powerful technology is key to the success of loyalty programs. The loyalty software platform provides the core engine for the program by integrating with back-end applications, payment systems, marketing channels, and various third parties.

Facing tough economic conditions and increasing competition, the client decided to introduce a comprehensive loyalty offering to boost repeat sales. A decision was made in favor of building a custom solution over purchasing an off-the-shelf product. First Line was selected as the leading development partner.

First Line’s Solution

Our experts were responsible for the requirements elaboration, design, development, testing, integration and deployment of the core engine of the platform. In the first phase of the project, our team has delivered a loyalty system that includes the following functionality:

  • Online account management for passengers
  • Miles accrual and redemption
  • Bonus engine and rule-based decisioning
  • Integration with multiple internal and external systems:
    • Ticketing and payment system
    • Customer support call center
    • Customer intelligence software
    • Marketing channels
    • Etc.

The platform was successfully developed on time and on budget, and first went live at the beginning of Q3 2012.

In addition to building the core platform and integrating it with the carrier’s website, the team also developed dedicated mobile applications for iOS, Android and Windows Mobile to give users access to their account and the opportunity to view account balance, account history and award options.

In the second phase of the project, our engineers implemented the real-time price optimization engine based on the product from Sabre Airline Solutions.

When a passenger tries to buy a ticket with his miles, the railroad’s legacy proprietary ticketing system first asks for the confirmation from the loyalty engine that this passenger has miles to redeem, and that there are award tickets remaining on that service. Once the confirmation is received, the ticket is issued, and the loyalty system deducts the appropriate number of miles form the passenger’s account. Now, in addition, the ticket transaction data is fed into the Sabre dynamic pricing engine in real time, and the prices for the remainder of the tickets are recalculated after each sale and fed back into the ticketing system.

Even though Sabre is a household name in the airline world, its product required significant customization to be applicable for a railroad carrier. Unlike in air travel, long haul train routes a large number of legs, and so the same seat can come to be occupied, in turns, by multiple passengers along the way. The complex logic responsible for making the seats on long distance train routes available for sales to passengers traveling on the subsequent legs of the train’s journey, as well as all the interfaces between the loyalty platform, the pricing engine, and the ticketing system were designed and developed by First Line’s experts.


Java, JSP, Spring, Hibernate, SOAP, SSL, HTTP/HTTPs, XML, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, ExtJs, JQuery, MS SQL, Oracle, MySQL, Tomcat, nginx, Memcached, IBM WebSphere MQ, iOS, Android, Windows Mobile

Project statistics

Team size: 8

Total effort: 160 person-months

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