Awarded to Softwire Technology Limited

Start date: Thursday 8 April 2021
Value: £3,000,000
Company size: SME
LNER - London North Eastern Railway

LNER Mobile 2020

9 Incomplete applications

5 SME, 4 large

15 Completed applications

9 SME, 6 large

Important dates

Tuesday 6 October 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Tuesday 13 October 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Tuesday 20 October 2020 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
The delivery, maintenance and improvement of a market leading mobile customer experience, both through existing roadmap items as well as helping explore, scope and develop future initiatives.
Latest start date
Monday 30 November 2020
Expected contract length
Up to 2 years
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
LNER - London North Eastern Railway
Budget range
To allow sufficient flexibility on this contract, and to meet the roadmap goals we have planned, we intent to spend up to £3million on this contract within the 2 year contract term.

About the work

Why the work is being done
"LNER are on a journey to revolutionise the customer experience for rail travellers in Great Britain. A key part of our transformational roadmap is our new mobile app. Earlier in 2020 we introduced the first phases of our app to customers. We have plenty left to do and road-map takes us beyond our original call-off contract. We are re-procuring to provide a renewed basis for continued investment over the next 2 years.
We hope to have a new arrangement in place before the end of 2020, with development work commencing to deliver our first app update under our new contract early in the new year."
Problem to be solved
"As this is a continuation of a live project, there is no single problem to be solved as such. Full details of our road-map will be shared with shortlisted applicants as part of the proposal stage.

Work activities will include: exploration & innovation in solution design, scoping requirements, UX & design, user research, development, testing, delivery, support and continuous improvement of the LNER mobile solution.

Key features include: purchasing and ticketing of rail journeys, account management and loyalty functionality, customer service initiatives and personalisation."
Who the users are and what they need to do
"Our typical users travel with LNER up to 3 times per year. Their travel is largely long-distance and discretionary. Our focus is on the domestic market, and with singles, couples, small groups (3 to 9) and business travellers.

Our customers need to be able to plan & book their journeys, receive their tickets and manage their journey changes.

They expect a personalised journey which automatically responds to their needs and keeps them informed. In today's climate they also want to ensure their own and other passengers' safety, minimising personal contact, whilst not compromising on the service they have paid for.

At a minimum, users have an iOS or Android phone"
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
"We have already released the first phases of the app into the app stores, so they are available to review. In summary, the work done to date includes:
- New app home screen with features for urgent messaging
- New personalised journey search form
- New booking flow (not including season tickets)
- Journeys listed chronologically, with external (Apple wallet/Google Pay/PDF) ticket access
- Integrations with key LNER systems
- Scoping and design for future roadmap (shared under next stage)"
Existing team
"Product manager (full time)
Project manager (full time)
Solution architect (part-time)
Various other internal team members covering off content, analytics, personalisation etc."
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Releasing our largest app releases during the pandemic has shown that work can be done remotely and we aim for that to continue, but preferred locations would be those along the LNER route to allow for in-person working whenever that becomes safe, practical and preferable. So key locations would be London, York, Newcastle or Edinburgh.
Working arrangements
"We work almost exclusively via Microsoft Teams currently, with regular daily sessions to check in on the various work-streams.
In future, work may be carried out from multiple locations including the Supplier’s offices. Attendance at LNER Offices in London, York and other locations around England or Scotland will be required for meetings. Supplier staff are expected to be available remote or on-site at LNER locations sufficient to manage relationships with senior stakeholders, the project team, and users; so that the outcomes of the project may be met."
Security clearance
Not required

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
The awarded supplier will be expected to undergo Social Value Evaluation at the Social Value Portal.

The awarded supplier is expected to comply with LNER SLA schedule which will be shared with successful suppliers.

The awarded supplier will also need to pass the LNER Info Sec assessment.

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Demonstrable experience within the last 3 years of building market leading apps, please include project size and adoption metrics
  • Demonstrable experience within the last 3 years of building apps with a range of sources of content and configuration.
  • Demonstrable experience within the last 3 years of designing industry-leading and innovative mobile user interfaces or features
  • Demonstrable experience within the last 3 years of facilitating insightful and data-driven user research to inform an iterative prototyping phase
  • Demonstrable experience within the last 3 years of payments integration, including but not limited to card not present payments, PayPal, Google Pay and Apple Pay
  • Demonstrable experience within the last 3 years of development and maintenance of secure mobile application ecosystems
  • Demonstrable experience within the last 3 years of developing solutions that securely integrate to other systems through a variety of techniques including but not limited to tagging, SOAP and REST.
  • Demonstrable experience within the last 3 years of regularly releasing fully tested, robust, quality app builds. Please include frequency of releases.
  • Demonstrable expertise of innovations, products, trends and standards in the mobile user experience domain
  • Demonstrable expertise of innovations, trends and standards in the multi-channel and eCommerce domain
  • Demonstrable data expertise on how the mobile proposition can gather and rationalise data to inform future product development (across mobile & the wider business).
  • Demonstrable expertise of delivering products to relevant industry regulations including but not limited to PCI DSS, DPA, GDPR, ISO27001 and PSD2. Please provide a list of all you believe relevant.
  • Provable inhouse mobile development capability in terms of revenue, staff numbers, skills, competencies and availability
  • Provable inhouse account and project management capability in terms of revenue, staff numbers, skills, competencies and availability
  • Provable capability to ramp up account resource internally or through an associate/partner model in response to changes in industry requirements.
  • Demonstrable experience within the last 3 years of developing solutions compliant with accessibility standards. Include any accreditations gained.
  • Demonstrable experience within the last 3 years of working successfully and collaboratively as part of a multi-supplier team
  • Demonstrable capability to deliver a fully managed and resilient solution with defined service availability of 99.999% or greater.
  • Demonstrable ability to deliver all aspects of the service, bound to contractual service level agreements and key performance indicators.
  • Demonstrable ability to provide a 24/7/365, value focused, service support function aligned with industry best practices (ITIL / DevOps)
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrable expertise in promoting successful app take-up and use
  • Demonstrable data expertise in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data and Automation to improve customer experience
  • Demonstrable expertise in the transportation industry
  • Demonstrable expertise in the future direction and associated challenges facing the rail industry
  • Demonstrable expertise or understanding of the potential for mobile in revolutionising customer experience within Britain's railway
  • Demonstrable expertise in delivering a continual service improvement throughout the product lifecycle aligned with industry best practices (ITIL / DevOps / Agile Service Management )

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Proposed delivery roadmap, with indicative times and costs, based on requirements document
  • Approach and methodology for the delivery
  • Proposed approach to being a proactive partner in helping define the role of mobile within the customer experience
  • Proposed team structure and account management
  • Confidence that the supplier can deliver projects to time and budget
  • Confidence the supplier can deliver an engaging, rewarding and brand-enhancing product
  • Confidence that the supplier shares a passion for improving the customer experience for rail users
  • Confidence the supplier can build a solution to ensure a smooth and accessible user experience for all customers
  • Confidence that supplier will deliver ongoing value for money
  • Confidence the supplier can deliver appropriate support to the mobile solution
Cultural fit criteria
  • Confidence that supplier understands what is important to LNER customers
  • Confidence that supplier can contribute to, and not just deliver, a market leading product
  • Confidence that the supplier understands and adheres to the LNER company vision and values
  • Confidence that the supplier can deliver an engaging, rewarding and brand-enhancing product
  • Confidence that the supplier shares a passion for improving the customer experience for rail users
  • Confidence that supplier can manage the account to ensure ongoing value for money
  • Confidence that the supplier can manage the account to ensure maximum buyer confidence
  • Confidence that the supplier will aid in LNER's goal to increase the social value of this contract
  • Confidence that the supplier can become an active part of a collaborative multi-supplier team delivering for LNER
  • Confidence that the supplier can help LNER push boundaries and use mobile to redefine the customer experience
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. From analysis of your first phases of the app into the App Stores, we see that they use Kotlin (Android) and Swift 5 (iOS), Is it your intention to keep using these specific code/platforms for the period of this contract? Or should proposals also include within their scope the complete re-platforming and redevelopment of all existing App functionality?
A complete re-platform isn't currently part of our plan and sounds like a significant undertaking, which could delay our delivery of key new features. However, as with all things, we're open to improvements of any kind, so if it makes sense for us to do so then we'll consider it.
2. Please could you confirm who is the incumbent supplier?
Softwire Technology Limited
3. Providing that we may wish to pursue a single contract with LNER, including best of bread mobile development capability which we would subcontract. Does this conflict with 'Provable in-house mobile development', assuming the program management and all other services are provided by our in-house resources.
The intention behind this requirement is to ensure ease of access to the full team, along with open, frank and productive workflows both with LNER and our other partners. We wouldn't discourage joint bids where some resource would be subcontracted, but we feel a fully subcontracted team open us up to too much risk.
4. What mobile tech stack do you currently use?
Shared core built in Kotlin multiplatform which handles all the business logic, with thin platform-specific presentation layers in Swift/Kotlin.
On the server side there’s an API layer written in Node/Express which provides a mobile friendly wrapper around other LNER services e.g. CBE. The API is running on AWS infrastructure, all managed via terraform.
Small amount of functionality handled via embedded webviews linking through to the LNER website. Most important of these being the payment card capture.
Small number of 3rd party library integrations, notably firebase (analytics), usabilla (feedback gathering) and an IBM acoustic library to integrate CEMs push messaging infrastructure
5. Can you verify whether the ISO27001 certificate is indeed a mandatory prerequisite for eligibility?
"ISO27001 is a preferred option.
Working towards it would be acceptable as would being prepared to work to our policy which does meet ISO

Not having it and being inflexible to amending policy to meet expectation would not be acceptable.
6. Can you please provide a breakdown of the App technologies (e.g. develop languages, platforms and frameworks) you need the successful supplier to have, beyond "tagging, SOAP and REST".
The answer to the clarification question above on our tech stack gives an indication of what we currently use. Ability to work with our current product is an obvious benefit, but we are also open to alternatives if better technologies are available.
7. Are LNER okay with rework in place on the existing apps or are open/preference to start anew with co-create user centric design, leverage modern app frameworks and design driven development approach
We are OK with working with the existing codebase, but are open to suggestions of improvements.
8. Is there any continuous integration/continuous testing pipeline to conform to, other code tests run on the app code base e.g. security vulnerabilities etc.?
Only one managed by the current incumbent. Nothing mandated by LNER.
9. Do you have any restrictions or preferences on where teams can be located? We noted that remote working is acceptable – and would be interested in leveraging our global resourcing capabilities for advantages in cost and skills.
We are open to advantages in cost and skills but that needs to be balanced against the need to ensure that teams are available during UK working hours for productive collaboration in product development. We also have our TOMs doc to assess as part of our cultural fit criteria.
10. Please can you detail your current ways of working around agile, devops, etc and specify any tool and method you are very keen we use when collaborating with you on your project
We don't have any requirements about tools or methods, and depending on the project or initiative are often caught between traditional and agile ways of working, so we're flexible.
11. Have you identified the typical users of the application and could you share some details on them (number, key characteristics)
"Our target demographic includes single, small group and family travellers. Primarily for long-distance leisure travel, but includes business travellers too. Across all age ranges, but primarily between 25 and 54.
Vast majority in the UK and English-speaking, but we don't want to be constrained by that."
12. How many users of the app are there in both Apple App Store and Google Play, please share any targets for downloads/expected users
Combined user base to date this calendar year is over 250K, with targets to grow monthly active users upwards of 300K in a year's time.
13. Is there an incumbent supplier (or suppliers), if so are you open to disclose who they are?
See Question 2
14. Can the code be shared during the tender process to best assess quality and accurately estimate development effort?
The code will not be shared as part of the tender process, but only after contract award.
15. Do LNER control the last mile deployment of the app to the consumer store, certificate management etc.?
No this is to be fully managed by the supplier
16. In addition to Softwire Technology Limited are there other providers you wish us to collaborate with?
We would expect collaboration with any existing LNER supplier as requied to deliver the service or future enhancements.
17. Is the vendor expected to take over the code base for the apps- are they native solutions or built as PWAs?
Yes, the successful applicant would take over the management and development of the codebase. They are native and built using the tools listed in the tech stack answer above.
18. Will you select a single supplier only for this engagement?
We will contract with a single supplier only. As with the answer to #3 above, we wouldn't discourage joint bits where some resource is subcontracted.
19. Will there be access to the current app code base for both Android and iOS platforms? Do LNER own the IP, rights to said code?
The code will not be shared as part of the tender process, but only after contract award. Shortlisted suppliers will be invited to share assumptions they base their proposal on
20. Can you provide details on any technical debt on the app Android/iOS eg. backlog of tickets or enhancements needed eg. anything related to performance improvements or severity of debt?
There isn't a high amount of items that need fixing on the app at point of new contract commencing.
21. Are LNER okay with use of Open Source in a proposed solution?
If Open Source is used LNER would need to be notified of all areas in which it is used, so the relevant stakeholders can approve. The supplier is wholly responsible for the development, delivery and security of the solution then the use of Open Source code is their risk to manage.
22. Are LNER okay with use of Open Source in a proposed solution?
If Open Source is used LNER would need to be notified of all areas in which it is used, so the relevant stakeholders can approve. The supplier is wholly responsible for the development, delivery and security of the solution then the use of Open Source code is their risk to manage.
23. Do LNER maintain the app hosts infrastructure, are console access credentials available?
The level of LNER maintenance is dependent on the support contract and the detail of the shortlisted/awarded proposal.
24. Who is the key stakeholder / decision maker responsible for this project?
The Digital Product Owner at LNER.
25. You mention that this is the continuation of a live project. Is there any particular reason why the work isn't being continued with the incumbent / is up for renewal at this time?
The incumbent contract is coming to an end without further scope for extension. In line with LNER's obligations under the Utilities Contracts Regulations a contract of this value must be competed to ensure LNER receives the most economically advantageous solution.
26. Is the vendor expected to take over the code base for the apps? What have they been built on?
Yes, please see previous responses to questions on the topic
27. Will the incumbent be bidding for this project?
LNER has no visibility of who is responding to the opportunity on the Digital Marketplace. Under our obligations of fair and equal treatment of all eligible bidders the published opportunity cannot be discussed with the incumbent supplier outside the formal procurement process either.
28. What is your intended procurement timeline (between 20th October and 30th November)?
The intention is to evaluate the shortlist by the beginning of November and then notify shortlisted and unsuccessful suppliers. Shortlisted suppliers will be invited to submit their proposal via LNER's e-sourcing system, Proactis and dates for presentations as part of the evaluation stage will be shared with them with the intention to complete evaluation and award in time for 30th November.