Monday 11 December 2023

Electronic Ticket Control Database (ETCD) successfully held in Paris and online on 28 November 2023

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The eTCD event organised by UIC was held in hybrid format on the morning of Tuesday 28 November 2023 at UIC headquarters and online via Teams, and was attended by around 60 participants online and around 20 in person.

The electronic Ticket Control Database is a centralised, real-time passenger ticket management system that helps railway companies to control non-reservation barcode ticket information onboard trains for all rail travel. The eTCD information is exchanged in real-time between ticket issuers and passenger carriers, which increases ticket security and helps prevent fraud. In addition, the eTCD service also communicates information on the extension of validity, delay confirmation, declaration of non-used tickets, class upgrades and downgrades as well as ticket gate checks.

eTCD benefits from collaboration with top experts in railway company distribution. Under the guidance of Clemens Gantert, DB Systel and Chairman of UIC Passenger Services Solutions (PSS), expert groups have successfully achieved the implementation of eTCD and developed specifications for OSDM (Open Sales and Distribution Model), along with designing the corresponding IT architecture.

The eTCD event was opened by Marc Guigon, UIC Passenger Director, and David Sarfatti, UIC Senior Passenger Advisor, who gave a warm welcome to the participants. In his welcome speech, Mr Guigon said: “eTCD plays a central role in a multimodal transport environment where multimodality and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) are key. Its objectives include creating distribution channels for integrated multimodal ticketing, facilitating seamless Air-Rail and D2D (Public Transport, MaaS) journeys, continuing the pursuit of commercial and operational cooperation between the air and rail sectors, exploring the potential of Mobility-as-a-Service for the first and last mile of long-distance and regional rail journeys in light of evolving passenger travel behaviours, and analysing the impact of Mobility-as-a-Service and Personal Mobility Devices on stations and customers.

Vittorio Carta, DB, and Chairman of the UIC Passenger Services Group (PSG), highlighted the importance of the project, saying that the railways are committed to offering a solution to support passengers by enhancing the passenger information chain.

Project leaders Luca Mariorenzi (FS Technology), Enrique Ruiz (Hitrail) and David Sarfatti (UIC) gave an introductory presentation reminding the audience of the technical aspects of eTCD. Its implementation is part of the aim of the UIC Passenger Services Group to develop IRSs and provide tools for UIC members covering the entire chain of distribution. As of today, 10 UIC members have already implemented their connection to eTCD and all European Railways should connect in 2025 in line with the UIC-CIT-CER Ticketing Roadmap to achieve full ticket digitalisation and support during disruption and delays.

Moreover, non UIC railway companies and other transport companies such as airlines, local and regional authorities (metro, tram and bus) plan to connect to eTCD in 2024.

Presentations were then given by companies already connected to eTCD, in particular by NS, DB, Eurail, Benerail, Trenitalia and SBB, who shared their experiences with the tool. The key messages included the importance of the tool to:

  • Improve fraud prevention, communication between train managers and allocators/issuers, and customer experience with regard to complaints and troubleshooting issues,
  • Improve exchange of information between the different stakeholders and the central database to enable better detection of cancellation,
  • Facilitate the dematerialisation of tickets purchased from any rail company that is connected to eTCD.

The second half of the meeting featured presentations on the benefits of the tool by CER (Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies) and CIT (International Rail Transport Committee).

Blaž Pongračič, CER Senior Policy Adviser Passenger, described eTCD as a key enabler of the 2025 CER ticketing roadmap for seamless international passenger travel, the aim of which is to provide passengers with a smooth travel experience when searching, selecting, buying and using rail services, including first and last mile transport with:

  • Access to simple, reliable and comprehensive online information regarding timetables, prices, real-time information and ticket purchasing for rail transport services,
  • Easy acceptance throughout Europe of tickets issued by different railways and ticket vendors,
  • Guidance in case of travel disruption on outward journey options and passenger rights.

Jan Vávra representing CIT’s Rail Transport Committee, spoke about the benefits of eTCD to meet legal and contractual requirements. In terms of the main messages:

  • Joining eTCD simplifies the digitalisation processes for both the AJC (Agreement on Journey Continuation) and PRR (Passenger Rights Regulation), especially for through tickets,
  • eTCD is important for all railways and all types of tickets, including NRT (Non-Reservation Tickets) and IRT (Integrated Reservation Tickets), IRT high-speed trains and regional transport,
  • eTCD can also distribute delay annotations, playing a future role on ensuring journey continuation,
  • Finally, joining eTCD is key to providing passengers with a better customer experience and is open to non UIC members.

In conclusion, eTCD represents three years of UIC activity in the rail passenger ticketing department and seamlessly aligns with the objectives and vision of UIC. Since 1921, UIC has been a leader in defining technical standards, evolving from paper layout ticket definitions and the introduction of MERITS, PRIFIS and HERMES IRSs in the 1990s to embracing electronic solutions. Today, it incorporates the latest technology in OSDM, eTCD REST API and Open Source standards, ensuring a continuous and responsive approach to the evolving needs of its members, including providing a smooth, paperless travel on many more European journeys.

Presentations from the event can be consulted here:

For further information please contact David Sarfatti, UIC Senior Passenger Advisor:

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