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Paperless Electronic Ticketing (PET)

PET (Paperless Electronic Ticketing) is a project currently developed by the GBI group of the Technical Group (TG).

Its scope is to investigate all innovative, non conventional techniques for issuing railway tickets, and to define common standards for the use of such techniques among the community of UIC members.

In a first phase PET has studied the possible use of chip cards as ticket support, but it came out that this media is much more suitable for interoperability at local level (regional railways, urban buses, metro) than for international journeys.

Therefore the TAP NT, while still looking at the evolutions in the chip card-ticketing, to see if there are possibilities to make of it an international railway-ticket standard, on request of the TG has then focused PET on the use of internet, and precisely on the home printing techniques. All the major railways are trying to cut distribution costs, allowing their customers to buy tickets at home on the web, letting them pay by credit card and print locally their tickets on A4 paper. At national level this is already possible in most technologically advanced countries, but the adopted solutions are different from each other and in general not compatible.

PET has acknowledged the existence of such different experiences, and has therefore defined a standard (described now in leaflet 918-3 “IRTHP IRTHP International Rail Ticket for Home Printing : International Rail Ticket for Home Printing”) where the security systems adopted independently by the different carriers do not need any change : each carrier has just to send to the ticket issuer its own “security certificate”, i.e. any piece of information (string of characters, 1D bar code, 2D bar code) whose correctness its own on board staff is able to check.

The issuer has only to collect the security certificates of all carriers involved in an international journey, create the image (jpg, tif, pdf, ...) of an A4 sheet on which the ticket elements, combined with the certificates, occur in the positions defined by the leaflet 918-3, and send it on line to the customer.

Apart from the home printed tickets, the TAP NT also studies the possibility of adding a barcode (or other security symbol) on a 918-2 based ticket. The goal of such a code is to replace the existing magnetic stripe and to improve fraud detection.

Another study the TAP NT is involved in concerns the “electronic ticket”. The aim is to have clients travelling without a printed ticket. Such a client will only have to identify himself when buying the trip and to identify himself again when travelling

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